Venture Capital – Nokia Ventures targets Europe

Nokia Ventures, the $100 million (euros 98.5 million) corporate venturing vehicle set up in 1998 and based in Silicon Valley, in mid-February opened a London office to co-ordinate its planned pan-European investment programme.

The fund, which invests in early-stage Internet, wireless, e-commerce and new media ventures, operates independently from Nokia Corporation, basing its investment decisions on commercial, rather than strategic, criteria. However, Nokia Ventures’ investees are able to benefit from access to the parent group’s technological and marketing resources and its contact network.

Even prior to the creation of the Nokia Venture Fund, the corporation was an active investor in early-stage technology-based firms in the Scandinavian markets. To date around half Nokia Venture Fund’s original allocation has been deployed and European investments will be made through the existing pool, but no specific sum has been allocated for European investments. Unveiling the London office, Nokia president Pekka Ala-Pietila flagged the probability of a larger second fund but gave no indications of timing. He added that Nokia Ventures would operate seamlessly between the US and Europe, “aiming at a truly global approach and investment portfolio”.

Nokia Ventures’ decision to open a European office underlines the strategic importance of the growing wireless Internet sector in Europe. Partner Martti Malka, the Nokia Ventures partner who will be responsible for the fund’s European activities, says “We see Europe as a very promising and growing market for new economy’ start-ups. Europe is becoming an Internet economy and will play a key role in creating the wireless Internet”.