The University of Tokyo Edge Capital Partners (UTEC) is launching a new program to solve a problem facing the venture capital fund, according to many deep tech founders. They may raise pre-seed capital from an incubator or accelerator program, but run into a funding gap before moving on to the initial stages. Without financial resources, it takes longer to commercialize their technology, however promising it may be.
UTEC, an independent venture capital fund associated with the University of Tokyo and other academic institutions, created the UTEC Founders Program (UFP) to fill this gap. It offers two components: equity, which invests up to $ 1 million with flexible terms, and grants, a non-dilutive donation of approximately $ 50,000 (or sometimes up to $ 100,000) allocated to beneficiaries. every six months.
UFP applications are open to researchers and founders of deep-tech anywhere in the world.
UTEC launched a $ 275 million fund in May and typically writes first checks of around $ 1 million to $ 5 million. Its aggregate assets under management are around $ 780 million, which the company says makes UTEC Japan’s largest venture capital fund for science and technology companies, and one of the largest deep technology fund in Asia.
After receiving feedback from researchers and entrepreneurs specializing in cutting-edge technologies, the fund’s partners realized that while they may have developed a potentially impactful technology, it may not immediately be. ready for seed funding. Many teams would also benefit from quick funding to continue preparing their technology for commercialization, instead of waiting for a lengthy due diligence process.
In an email, Hiroaki Kobayashi and Kiran Mysore, directors of UTEC and managers of UFP, told TechCrunch: “Just like entrepreneurs who create new product offerings to meet unmet market needs, we , at UTEC, we strive to be more agile and offer new investment products to serve science and technology researchers and entrepreneurs. UFP is UTEC’s attempt to channel over 15 years of advanced technology investment experience and learning into an early stage technology commercialization initiative.
The equity track is primarily aimed at early stage and pre-series A startups, and offers flexible investment terms like SAFE, KISS and J-KISS (the Japanese version of Keep It Simple Security) ratings, ratings and convertible bonds or common stocks. It accepts applications throughout the year and successful applicants are contacted for a first interview within three days. Mysore said the entire due diligence and investment committee process will be completed within four weeks of the first interview.
The grant program is for pre-launch or early stage startups, and the funds can be used for things like prototyping, market testing, and recruiting. Applications are open every six months, with around five teams selected each time. The deadline for the first batch of applicants is July 31 and decisions will be made in September.
High-tech teams participating in UFP also have access to the UTEC network of over 115 Japanese and global startups, academic institutions, government organizations, and businesses.