Fund Briefs, Apr 1, 2010

Atomico Wraps Second Fund

Atomico Ventures, a European-focused VC fund run by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, last month closed its second fund with $165 million in capital commitments. A regulatory filing from May 2009 indicated that the firm had been seeking upwards of $266 million, with Probitas Partners serving as placement agent.

Atomico said in a statement that the new fund will focus primarily on Europe, and will seek to invest in “early stage, high-growth technology companies, with the goal to provide outsized returns to investors over the long-term.”

The new fund has already made seven invesments, Atomico CEO Zennström told VCJ sister blog peHUB. Atomico’s portfolio includes Jolicloud, which makes an Internet operating system for netbooks, ChemistDirect, an online chemist based in the U.K., and Playfire, a social network for gamers.

Zennström says the fund didn’t come in below target. “Our lawyers told … we needed to set a limit in the SEC filing, because if we went above it we’d have to do another filing,” he told peHUB. “So we basically put a high number with a really big buffer. The reality is that, with the kind of investments we’re looking at, you don’t want to have too big of a fund.

Asked about the health of Europe’s startup scene, Zennström said: “I think there is vibrancy. And I also think everything is relative. There are more things going on in Silicon Valley than in London, but I see a trend of more and more activity here with lots of interesting opportunities.” —Dan PrimackUKIIF Raises £200m Tech Fund

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has been selected by the U.K. government to manage a £200 million technology fund-of-funds that will invest £10 million into young and growing businesses across the United Kingdom.

The Future Technology Fund will invest in digital/ICT, life sciences and advanced manufacturing. The EIF is one of the largest investors in European venture capital, supporting both well-known and first time teams and has built a strong track record in the industry.

The new technology fund-of-funds follows the creation of a £125 million fund that will invest in low carbon and cleantech sectors, which will bring the total UKIIF investment to £325 million.—Aimee DonnellanNordic Fund Targets €150M

Scandinavian-focused technology investor Northzone Ventures has held a first close on €90 million for its Northzone VI fund. The fund is targeting €150 million and will invest in European technology companies.

Nordic and institutional investors participated in the first close.

Stockholm-based Northzone has raised a total of €445 million in six funds. With offices in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen, the firm has invested in over 70 companies since its inception in 1996.

“Although this is great news for the venture capital market, we don’t claim that the crisis is over yet,” Northzone General Partner Tellef Thorleifsson says. “To be frank, we expect the adverse financial market conditions to continue. But in hard times, the best entrepreneurs get going and, thus, we are actually looking forward to team up with more than our fair share of world-class entrepreneurs.” —Aimee DonnellanCube Pushes Back Final Close

Luxembourg-based Cube Infrastructure has pushed back the final close of its first infrastructure fund from March to June to allow extra time to garner investor interest in the fund.

With a target of €1 billion, the fund’s most recent close was held at €600 million in December. CEO and Managing Partner Renaud de Matharel tells VCJ that the fund now stands at €700 million.

Cube currently has commitments from 12 LPs from seven countries, including Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Denmark. Seven of these investors are pension funds, two are insurance companies, two are banks and one is a fund of funds.

“We are currently at €700 million and have found the fund-raising environment surprisingly easy,” de Matharel says. “We have remained one of the only funds to raise a substantial amount of capital during the crisis and we are moving forward with the fund, having raised money from new investors.”

By the end of December 2009, Cube had invested €280 million in six infrastructure assets. All of the investments were made in sustainable development sectors, across Spain, France and the United Kingdom. These investments were realized in water distribution, waste management, solar and wind power generation, fiber optictelecom cables and rail infrastructure. —Aimee Donnellan

ESA Launches Space Fund

The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched a venture capital fund dedicated to supporting new businesses using space innovations. It hopes to raise €100 million by June 2011.

Managed by Triangle Venture Capital Group, a European early stage investor, the fund, called Open Sky Technology Fund (OSTF), has held a first close on €15 million.

“We are planning to make our first investment in the next few weeks into a sat navigation business,” Triangle founder Dr. Bernd Geiger told VCJ in March. “We have already lined up additional investment and will hold our second closing before the summer.”

OSTF is an early stage venture capital fund that will invest in companies in space technologies and satellite applications for terrestrial industries.

The fund will source investment opportunities across all 18 ESA member states identified through ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office and its partners.

“With the OSTF, ESA is supporting young and entrepreneurial companies which are putting innovative ideas from space technology, services and applications to terrestrial uses,” says Michel Courtois, ESA’s director of technical and quality management. “This will help to increase the benefits coming back from space to European citizens.” —Aimee DonnellanTeam Ventures Launches in Germany

Berlin-based VC firm Team Europe Ventures has launched a €6 million fund to invest in Internet and mobile internet startups.

Focusing mainly on European companies, the fund will also make investments in U.S. businesses. Team Europe plans to make four to five investments per year, with a maximum of €500,000 per company.

“We are able to invest in very early stages,” says Team Europe Partner Kolja Hebenstreit. “If a team is complete, or nearly complete, we’re happy to come on board during the so called ‘PowerPoint’ stage. Experience shows that decisive decisions are often made during the foundation phase, so we think it’s good to speak with experienced potential partners as early as possible.”

Investors in the fund include Internet entrepreneurs and angels. —Aimee Donnellan