For the third year in a row, Orange Digital Ventures and Deloitte have published the annual barometer on Corporate Venture Capitalists in France.
Over the past 10 years, Corporate Ventures activity has strongly increased in France. In an ever more competitive environment, the big corporate groups are using this type of investment fund to optimise their relationships with start-ups. This is part of their open innovation strategy.
Meeting a dual objective that is both strategic and financial, this activity has grown significantly. For this 3rd edition, Deloitte and Orange Digital Ventures produced a barometer that assesses the market and identifies the main trends in French CVCs.
“2018 saw significant growth in the global CVC market. France asserted its central role in this change, with growth that saw the average number of investments double compared with 2016. While French CVCs have asserted their investment strategies within an Open Innovation objective, the collaborations put in place have turned towards win/win policies particularly in terms of business support”, stated Julien Maldonato, partner at Deloitte’s Industrial financing consulting.
French CVCs keep a central place on the market
At a global level the CVC market has asserted itself as a major segment in capital risk, participating to 53 billion dollars of fundraising in 2018 or 47% more than 2017. This growth has largely been carried by Asia, where there was a 62.4% increase in the number of deals. Europe also benefited from this momentum with growth of more than 18.6% compared with 2016. The North American market remained more or less stable and mature with a 13.1% increase in deals compared with the previous year.
Growth was significant in the French market with the average number of investments doubling compared with 2016. Additionally, 75% of the CVCs surveyed have already anticipated investment growth for the coming year. The sustained importance of these new actors on the market can also be seen in their organisational structure. Nearly half (45%) of those who replied already have an office abroad and 75% of them have recruited new employees in 2018.
A shift in investment to benefit CleanTech
In terms of the prioritised investment area, French CVCs have adapted their strategy. 67% of those surveyed are now focusing on new investments rather than on start-ups that are already in their portfolio. However only 38% are taking the lead in the investment. This trend is shared by the majority of the CVCs from around the world: only 19% made the choice to lead on more than half of their transactions. This “follower” strategy makes CVCs the ideal partner for start-up growth.
While French CVCs invest mainly in Series A (the commercialisation phase is launched and funds are used to accelerate the development and structuring of the company, including internationally), the study also shows a significant increase (x2.1) in Later Stage investment in more mature Start-ups. On the other hand, investment in Pre-Seed start-ups saw a net reduction (68%) compared with 2017. Additionally, French CVCs prefer more mature markets (France 41% + Europe 32% + North America 12%). While the dynamism in Asia is also attractive, CVCs invest here to a lesser degree, with an average of 12% of investments.
The CleanTech/ Energy sector profited significantly from these new strategies and saw 53% growth in investments in 2018.
A “win-win” Open Innovation goal
79% of investments made by CVCs in 2018 met an open innovation objective while still falling within the traditional concept of fostering synergy between big groups and start-ups. In order to provide adapted support to the Start-ups more than half of French CVCs have a dedicated team, of which 80% contribute to Business Development. Additionally 70% of those surveyed state that they have completed tests that then led to the rolling out of commercial partnerships (56%) and the support of start-up growth (44%).
“The on-going growth of CVCs reflects the attractiveness of corporate investments in the eyes of entrepreneurs. This proves that CVCs can succeed – beyond merely financing and financial ROI – in bringing added value to the start-up, through synergies, and in providing learning opportunities for the large corporate group as a whole. ” said Yann Kandelman, Director of Investments at Orange Digital Ventures.
CVCs are setting the partnership between big corporate groups/ start-ups within an “organic” relationship, while enabling external growth: the vast majority of CVCs who replied have led one or several of their portfolio startups to an exit during the past 5 years, and for 22% of the CVCs surveyed to an IPO in the same period.