European News Briefs, November 2012

MOSCOW

Runa Backs Station X in the U.S.

Moscow-based technology investor Runa Capital has led a $5 million venture round in Redwood City, Calif.-based genome research company Station X.

Station X develops browser-based software that allows genomic analysis from large data sets.

Its second round of funding will let it hire more staff and hasten the launch of its debut product, GenePool.

The deal is another example of Runa Capital’s reach. The firm has invested across Russia, Europe and the United States in the past year, and has now built a 14-company portfolio from its $135 million technology fund.

The Station X financing comes just a month after Runa rung up a $3 million Series A investment in Seattle-based telephony company Infratel.

BERLIN

Education-Focused Sofatutor Makes the Grade

Munich-based Acton Capital Partners has done its homework on Sofatutor.com and led a roughly €5 million ($6.5 million) funding round in the Berlin-based company.

Sofatutor, operator of a school study website, will use the funding to cover a wider range of school curriculums and, in time, expand into new European markets.

Sofatutor is currently launching mobile services for students, who use its website to help with schoolwork and study for exams.

Also participating in the round were J.C.M.B. Beteiligungs and VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin, investors in Sofatutor’s previous funding, an undisclosed round in 2010. 

The deal was Acton’s fifth investment of the year.

LONDON

Partial IPO Proposal Opens the Exit Door

Europe’s stuttering exit market could get a jump-start by new proposals to allow companies to list as little as 10% of their stock on the London Stock Exchange.

The idea is thought to be partly about preventing the U.K.’s best new technology businesses from defecting to the United States, where new rules under the U.S. JOBS Act have been introduced to help small businesses go public.

Addressing a meeting of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, David Willetts, the U.K. minister for universities and science, said that the plan would “ensure that the needs of dynamic businesses—particularly Internet and technology companies—and their investors are met.”

He also suggested that the partial listings would be open to companies across Europe and the United Kingdom, regions where only about a dozen venture-backed companies went public in 2011.

MUNICH, GERMANY

Definiens Celebrates a Gilded Round

Utrecht, Netherlands-based venture firm Gilde Healthcare Partners has led a €10 million ($12.4 million) financing for German digital pathology business Definiens.

Definiens will use the money to fund a global sales push for its cancer diagnosis tools, which are already used by several pharmaceutical companies.

Also participating in the funding were existing investors TVM Capital, Cipio Partners and Definiens’ management.

It was Gilde’s second new investment of the year, following its lead in a September round of $17 million for Bedford, Mass-based iWalk.

Like Gilde, Munich-based TVM invests in growth-stage life science companies in Europe and the United States.

Cipio, another Munich firm with a U.S. focus, typically focuses on the secondary market, purchasing portfolios of VC and PE holdings from other firms.

MILAN, ITALY

Beintoo Becomes Multiplayer Game

A $2 million financing from London-based TLcom Capital has seen gamification outfit Beintoo log on a second VC player to its shareholder base.

TLcom’s investment follows Beintoo’s Series A round of $5 million the month before by Italian firm Innogest Capital.

Milan-based Beintoo claims that more than 200 million people have already been rewarded with “Bedollars,” virtual currency the company provides that can be spent on real-world purchases in exchange for time spent on participating websites, games and applications.

The deal was TLcom’s second investment of the year. It is currently deploying its €51 million ($63 million) second fund.

The firm invests across Europe and Israel in early-stage telecom, media and tech companies.

LONDON

Managers Warn of VCT Extinction Threat

Several British venture capital trust (VCT) managers are dismayed by a possible shake-up of rules governing the marketing of certain investments to private investors, which they fear would torpedo future fundraising efforts.

A consultation by the United Kingdom’s financial regulator has proposed a limit on the sale of Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS) to private investors, who form the target market for VCT fundraising.

Currently, individuals can invest up to £200,000 ($321,000) per year in VCTs, which offer tax breaks.

Three VC firms told investment adviser Bestinvest that the proposals, if implemented, would wipe out VCT fundraising within 18 months, while six firms said fundraising would fall by at least 75 percent.

However, opinion among some firms is divided on whether VCTs come under the UCIS definition.

Compiled by Alex Derber