TechFund braves the storm

At a time when many investors are steering clear of early stage technology ventures, Paris-based venture capital firm TechFund Capital Europe continues to battle on with its fundraising. The fund, which had an original target of EURO100 million when it launched over a year ago, has achieved a first close of EURO25 million. A final close of around EURO60 million is anticipated for mid-year.

Jean-Michel Barbier, who is heading the TechFund Capital Europe team, said: “When we started the fundraising process, the market was easy and we were overly ambitious.” Investors in the fund so far include major financial institutions such as the European Investment Fund and Caisse des Depots et Consignations/FPCR and leading European corporations such as Thomson Multimedia, Thales Group and EDF.

Investments will focus on core and enabling technologies including networking, telecommunications, wireless storage, optics, software, hardware and multimedia. Initial investments will be made in France and will eventually span to Germany and the rest of Europe.

TechFund Capital Europe is emulating its Silicon Valley-based counterpart, TechFund Capital, which has an investment philosophy based on the acceleration approach, identifying innovative companies early in their corporate development and advising those companies in developing their potential. The fund was launched in 1997 and raised $140 million and is now fully invested.

The management team are all former members of Thomson-CSF Ventures (now Thales Corporate Ventures), the venture capital arm of the French IT and electronics giant Thales Group. Jean-Michel Barbier, who founded Thomson-CSF Ventures in 1986, has been leading the TechFund Capital Europe team since the venture was set up in July 2000.

TechFund Capital Europe has made one investment so far in 6WIND, a technology company for access and edge solutions to enable the migration to the new version of the Internet Protocol Ipv6. A year after its first financing round from TechFund, the company secured a further round of capital of EURO7.5 million in December.

“Today, there is a wealth of attractive investment opportunities for seed and early stage venture capital investing in core technologies in Europe,” said Jean-Michel Barbier, managing partner of TechFund Capital Europe.