equinet launches regional German fund

equinet Venture Partners, the Frankfurt-based venture capital investor, has launched an early stage technology fund in conjunction with the central development agency of Mainz, Investitions- und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz (ISB). The fund has raised €15 million, with an option to double its size if it is successful.

The fund, Venture Capital Rheinland-Pfalz (VRP), will have a similar focus to the other fund equinet is currently investing, equinet Early Stage Capital Fund I, which raised €20 million in 2001. VRP will invest in early stage, high tech companies in sectors such as IT, biotech/life sciences, nanotech, microreaction and materials technology. Although investee companies do not have to be based in Rheinland-Pfalz there must be some connection with the region.

Dr Thomas Hoch, managing partner of equinet Venture Partners, said: “Despite the very difficult prevailing situation for venture capital, this concept has enabled us to convince various renowned companies of the merits of investing anti-cyclically.” Other investors in the fund, besides Investitions- und Strukturbank Rheinland-Pfalz, are Landesbank Rheinland-Pfalz, Debeka Allgemeine Versicherung, Provinzial Rheinland Versicherung, Versicherungskammer Bayern, SV SparkassenVersicherung Hessen-Nassau-Thüringen, Adam Opel and Schott Spezialglas.

The ISB provides finance to SMEs and new businesses through government subsidies, loans, guarantees and equity investments. It runs a number of VC schemes and to date has made around 240 venture capital investments with a total value of €55.4 million. It is the first time ISB has been involved with a fund managed by an independent VC. Investments from VRP will be made on a commercial basis with a focus on capital gains.