The imec.istart Fund receives a solid capital injection and grows from 12.5 million euros to more than 30 million euros. The maximum investment in each technology startup goes up from 150,000 to 250,000 euros. "We are helping a new generation of startups grow into ambitious scale-ups," says Sven De Cleyn, program director of the imec.istart accelerator program. "In the long term, we are investing in the transformation of our economy, which will be needed more than ever after the COVID-19 pandemic."
The imec.istart Fund was founded in 2017 with a starting capital of 12.5 million euros and a focus on startups working with digital technologies. The Flemish government and the private partners that co-founded the fund (imec, ING, BNP Paribas Fortis, Telenet and Cronos Groep) are now jointly increasing their capital to 30.5 million euros.
Up to 250,000 euros per startup
In addition to the fund's initial focus on digital technology, special attention will now also be paid to sustainability and solutions with a hardware component. To reinforce this evolution, the fund also attracts four new partners who will provide the right support: Verhaert, Nuhma, EFIN and Vlaamse EnergieHolding. Thanks to the capital increase, the maximum investment in each startup can be increased. Whereas the maximum investment used to be 150,000 euros, the imec.istart Fund will now be able to inject up to 250,000 euros into a startup.
By increasing the average investment, startups can grow faster, says De Cleyn. "We notice that there is a shortage of funding at an early stage. A lot of funds have been set up in recent years, but they are now growing into their second fund and investing larger amounts in later capital rounds. This creates a new lack of early stage funding. We want to bridge that gap by raising our ceiling. Moreover, more and more startups are focusing on solutions with a hardware component. They have a greater initial capital shortness than startups that only develop software."
The imec.istart Fund not only receives a substantial capital injection, it was also transformed into an evergreen fund. This means that the capital returning from exits can be reinvested in the new generation of startups. Sven De Cleyn: "The ecosystem of technology startups is a crucial link to transform our economic and industrial fabric. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced the need for a strong local, sustainable and digital economy. Today's startups are tomorrow's big companies. They stimulate the innovation that will be the engine of the recovery and they create jobs. Deliverect, DataCamp and POSiOS (now Lightspeed), three of our alumni companies, already have more than 100 employees today."
In recent years, the initial pre-seed funding by imec.istart has shown to have an important leverage effect on attracting follow-up funding. On average, every euro the imec.istart Fund invested in startups generated more than 25 euros from other sources. The portfolio companies of the imec.istart Fund together raised more than 320 million euros in follow-up funding. With the capital increase, the various partners want to further increase the impact of the startup ecosystem and as such contribute to innovation and a sustainable, local economy.