Japanese Firm American Companies –

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Techno-Venture Co. Ltd., a Japan-based venture firm with a Silicon Valley presence, is raising its ninth fund.

The vehicle, likely to total $15 million to $20 million, will get its capital from Japanese institutions but invest exclusively in the United States, mainly on the West Coast, said Techno-Venture U.S. Chairman Jonathan MacQuitty.

Techno-Venture IX will back electronics, information technology, software, hardware and medical technology, making deals of roughly $1 million to $2 million per round of financing. The firm backs companies from early- to mezzanine-stages of development.

Techno-Venture VII wrapped in December 1996 and Techno-Venture VIII followed in April 1997. Denominated in yen, the two funds total some $35 million and have invested side-by-side in American companies, MacQuitty said.

Techno-Venture’s backs companies that can benefit from its list of Japanese investors, which often help portfolio companies conduct business in Japan.

Symyx Corp., for example, is a combinatorial chemicals company just starting to establish a market presence in Japan with Techno-Venture’s assistance. Argonaut Technologies Inc., a maker of chemical synthesizer equipment is selling machines in Japan with Techno-Venture’s help in establishing key relationships and setting a marketing plan.

L.P.s include Toyota Motor Corp., Hitachi, Nissan Motor Co. and a number of banks, MacQuitty said.

The firm’s portfolio companies include San Diego’s Nanogen Inc., a maker of microelectronics for medical research and diagnosis; The Lightspan Partnership Inc., a play-station maker of educational software; and Extensity Inc., a developer of Java-based electronic internal documents, such as expense sheets.