Jan. 16, 2004 -- A Swiss-based firm plans to be among the first in Europe to raise a nanotechnology venture capital fund.
Zurich based NanoDimension AG is currently attempting to raise as much as $93 million to invest in nanotechnology, despite a decision by German investment group Capital Stage to abandon its own plans for a $120 million fund. Capital Stage decided not to pursue its fund after one year and discussions with 400 potential limited partners. It had been backing a Zurich-based team, led by fund manager Berndt Samsinger, and was targeting instrument, biotech and nanomaterials companies.
NanoDimension was founded by nanotech researcher Aymeric Sallin, a former management consultant. The other partner is Daniel Richner, who previously established a biotech fund for Swiss private bank and fund manager Lombard Odier.
NanoDimension is looking to invest between $4 million and $6 million in as many as 20 companies. The fund will focus on nanotechnology applications in electronics and life sciences, and is also looking strongly at energy investments -- specifically photoelectric cells.
"There is no track record for this [nanotech] industry, but all of the 12 individuals involved have their good records in the industrial and financial worlds" said Richner at September's World NanoEconomic Congress conference in London. "The attractiveness of the field is that it is interdisciplinary," he told attendees.
Richner said that he expects to be able to raise the fund largely from Swiss-based investors. "The equity markets have improved since Capital Stage attempted to raise its fund, making investors more willing to consider this sort of fund," he said.
The fund will focus its attention on a few areas. "We have a clear focus on IT electronics and life materials," Richner said. "Energy is also a very important area of focus -- for instance, the application of nanotech in the development of the next generation of solar cells."
The science advisory board is largely composed of academics and former employees of the highly respected Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (News, Web). The chairman of NanoDimension's scientific advisory board, Jean-Philippe Ansermet, is a professor at the Swiss institute. Other scientific advisors include Harry Heinzelmann, vice president responsible for the nanotech division at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology. Other European investors have signaled interest in nanotechnology, such as 3i Group plc, based in the United Kingdom, and Index Ventures, based in Geneva.