Taking VC To the Entire World

The World Economic Forum, the international organization that yearly plays host to world leaders at its Davos, Switzerland, summit, is getting into the VC business.

The organization is consulting with about a dozen firms, including Accel Partners and 3i, for help in the development and delivery of venture capital to world economies that have little history with the asset class.

The first stop is China, says Tom Smith, who heads IBM’s venture capital group and is a participant in the World Economic Forum’s Venture Capital Working Group, as the project is called. Among the goals is to create best practices and to help China better identify how to foster clusters of innovation, such as around Peking University.

The idea came about last fall, he says, when during an investor’s summit in China, the government asked for ideas about fostering entrepreneurship.

“After a half-day session, there was this collective realization that we’d all need far more time if we wanted to provide solid recommendations,” Smith says.

He says that although the group is looking initially at China, it hopes to develop a framework that will work in many other areas, including India, Brazil and Eastern Europe.