Japanese venture capital firm Beyond Next Ventures (BNV) has earmarked Rs 250 crore to invest in early-stage deep-tech Indian start-ups. Since 2020, its Indian arm, BNVI, has already invested Rs 200 crore in 14 Indian start-ups, including Big Haat, MediBuddy, Biomoneta, Gourmet Garden, and ImpactGuru. It is now looking to partner with corporates to incubate ideas for solving social and business issues.
"In Japan, we are more focussed on med-tech and health-tech. Our India portfolio is much more diverse, covering industries such as Med-tech, Agri-food tech, AI/IT, fintech, and to name a few," says Tsuyoshi Ito, Managing Director, Beyond Next Ventures. For investing in India, BNVI has established a network that helps identify promising opportunities.
"We choose ventures based on the idea, market potential, and credentials of the founders. However, we also try to explore synergies with Japanese companies. It is our strong conviction that India will lead the world for a foreseeable time with game-changing disruptive ideas. Japan, on the other hand, is known for deep-tech and to achieve and maintain quality and scale at the global level, and there is a convergence in the collaboration," he adds.
Besides investing in start-ups, BNV in India has partnered with Toshiba Software India for an Ideathon – a 12-week innovation programme to spur entrepreneurial skill development for employees and innovative engineer solutions.
"Ideathon will encourage TSIP employees to use its technologies and infrastructure to conceive ideas that will build sustainable, inclusive and innovative solutions for business and social problems in India," says Mayur Shah, Head – Business Development, BNVI. BNVI is also in talks with a couple more corporates in India with Japanese roots for digital transformation initiatives.
While the first of its kind in India, BNV in Japan has partnered with corporates to help carve out more innovative ventures. In February 2019, it worked with Eisai, a human healthcare company, to form Alchemedicine, meant for drug discovery. In June 2019, Denso-OPExPARK, a state of art surgical information management system, was formed. It also helped Toshiba carve out Cytoronix, for the purpose of acceleration of cell medicine, where BNV joined as the co-investors in 2021. However, as Shah says, unlike Japan, the Indian ecosystem primarily focuses on incubating ideas instead of carving them.
In a climate where many investors have strongly signalled a tight fist on funds already, Shah says, "The scarcity of access liquidity is a blessing in disguise, and we feel this is the best time to evaluate and invest in Indian promising start-ups. We are always looking for disruptive ideas that have the potential to scale globally. As we speak, we are actively evaluating multiple exciting opportunities."
BNVI says the current situation in India is very similar to Japan's early-stage high economic growth. Young demographics in Japan then and in India now feel that the "onus is on them to solve social and business problems and not leave it to large corporations".
Additionally, Innovation ventures are enjoying immense support from the Indian government. The low capital requirement to enter the business and the ability to scale on account of the large and early adopter market gives Indian start-ups a distinct chance to create industry standards.
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