bm|t newsletter Q3 2021
This year our Investee-Partners have achieved an impressive number of partnerships with corporates and corporate VCs (Blockchains Inc. acquiring evan.network; Evonik acquiring JeNaCell; and KION making a large strategic investment and cementing a commercial partnership with ifesca), which we believe were all excellent ways for our Investee-Partners to take their business to the next level. Naturally, all this activity with corporate investors and partners led us to analyze when and under what circumstances it is advantageous for innovative young companies to enter a deep relationship with a corporate.
In this Newsletter
Most newly founded companies initially want to go it alone and aim to blaze their own trail to ultimate success. Generally, somewhere along this adventurous and frequently arduous journey, it often becomes clear that the path to making a major dent in the world would be significantly shortened by partnering with others that have special assets which can bring the ultimate goal closer, such as product development expertise, complementary offerings (see our Newsletter about enabling products here), market access, deep pockets, etc.
Of course, for young companies, finding well-suited partnerships is not as easy as snapping one´s fingers. In addition to possessing an attractive innovation, young companies need to build a solid foundation that engenders trust from larger corporations, which will always be weighing the potential benefits of cooperation against the risks to their business that a partnership can introduce. Probably the most delicate balance start-ups must master is advancing their development at lightspeed while also establishing the structure, reliability, discipline, and security that are essential prerequisites for engaging in sincere discussions with larger corporate partners. Innovative companies that do this well are able to establish proof-of-technology, proof-of-market, and proof-of-compatibility with strategic partners seamlessly along their journey.
For young companies that manage this balance and become attractive for corporates, determining the right time to sacrifice partial (or complete) autonomy for enhanced chances of success by gaining access to these special corporate assets is rarely crystal clear. However, a general rule is that a partnership only makes sense when the combined forces dramatically increase the impact that a product or solution can have in the world. There will inevitably be frictions involved in sharing the steering wheel, so it is important that the benefits are large and clear in order to keep everyone driving toward the shared goal.
Ultimately, a business´ value should be determined by its positive impact on society and joining forces with a corporate partner can often be the best way for innovations to drive meaningful change and thus create significant value. We are extremely pleased with the three excellent partnerships with corporates that our Investee-Partners achieved so far this year, precisely because we are certain that in each case even greater value creation lies ahead.
Your bm|t Team
Evonik has fully acquired Jena-based biotech company JeNaCell, expanding its biomaterials portfolio to provide biotechnologically derived cellulose. JeNaCell’s portfolio will be integrated into Evonik’s health care business and will accelerate Evonik´s Nutrition & Care division´s shift towards system solutions and expand the company´s platform of natural materials for medical technology.
We are extremely pleased with this exit, as JeNaCell and the impact its unique products have on the world will certainly be greatly enhanced by a multitude of Evonik´s corporate assets. This investment and exit were especially meaningful as we were joined by many of our most important and frequent co-investors: HTGF, Sparkasse Jena, and the STIFT. We all wish JeNaCell well for its bright future with Evonik!
Welcome to the Family
It is no secret that medical robotics is a red-hot space and that innovations which improve patient outcomes while alleviating stress on the healthcare system have tremendous potential. tediro GmbH, from Ilmenau, is developing a mobile robotics platform for therapy and diagnostics in medical facilities that accomplishes both goals. The company has already progressed quite far in the development of its first application: a mobile patient assistance robot for rehabilitation training with an initial focus on post-operative gait training. bm|t led this seven-figure initial financing round with well-suited co-investors MBG Thüringen and Olaf Jedersberger.
BREAKTHROUGH INVESTMENT ALERT!!
With an investment of approximately five million euros, taking a stake of almost 20 per cent, the KION Group, a world-leading intralogistics group, has become the second-largest owner of ifesca. Concurrently, the KION Group and ifesca cemented a strategic cooperation which will seamlessly integrate ifesca´s AI energy management and optimization software into KION´s customer offering, creating a holistic logistics and energy management solution. bm|t joined this investment round with 2.2 Mio. EUR to bring the total capital raised to 7.2 Mio. EUR. In addition to creating an excellent combined customer offering with KION, this capital will allow ifesca to roll out its leading AI decision-support solution even more rapidly across multiple sectors and geographies.