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ffVC Launches €60M Fund to Propel Central European Startups into Japan

ffVC partners - Maciej Skarul, Mariusz Adamski
Image credit: ffVC partners - Maciej Skarul (left), Mariusz Adamski (right)

• The US-founded ff Venture Capital (ffVC) has launched a €60 million fund, ff Red & White, targeting Central European startups with a focus on specific industries such as enterprise software, industrial tech, and sustainability transformation.
• The fund aims to create a bridge for CEE startups to the Japanese market, in partnership with JBIC IG Partners, a Japanese investment advisory firm.
• The fund will focus on startups from Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary.

Following the establishment of its first European fund, ff Venture Capital (ffVC), an international venture capital firm based in New York and Warsaw, has recently launched ff Red & White. This new initiative comprises a €60 million fund directed towards startups in Central Europe, with a focus on Series A and late seed investments.

Investment focus: tackling global challenges in key economic sectors

The ff Red & White fund will primarily focus on startups that are taking on some of the world’s most pressing challenges and have the potential to significantly impact both enterprises and societies. These challenges include streamlining supply chain management, inflation control, innovative solutions for energy shortages, and reducing carbon emissions to meet climate crisis targets.

Fostering global partnerships: collaboration with Japanese corporations

The ff Red & White fund will leverage the international networks established by ffVC and JBIC IG Partners to foster collaboration between Central European startups and Japanese multinational corporations. This partnership is aimed at enabling the selected startups to commercialize their solutions globally, with a particular focus on the Japanese market.

“We believe there is a unique opportunity for startups aggressively tackling pressing challenges in both regions – ageing populations, changes in global trade and its impact on manufacturing economies, as well as energy dependence.”, says Maciej Skarul, partner at ffVC.

Moreover, ffVC’s new initiative will ensure that both startups and corporations mutually benefit from these collaborations. With the appointment of Japanese partners Masayuki Ohta and Taro Hizume (both from JBIC IG Partners), the fund will provide additional support to startups navigating their expansion into Japan. The partners will relocate to Warsaw to provide CEE startups with resources for international growth.

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Masayuki Ohta shares that JBIC IG Partners has recognized the potential synergy between Central European startups and Japanese multinational corporations. This connection is drawn from parallels in their respective economic structures, the common challenges they are addressing, and the problem-solving mentality exhibited by startup founders in the CEE.

The Polish connection: Skarul and Adamski at the helm

Leading this initiative are ffVC Polish partners Maciej Skarul and Mariusz Adamski, who bring their expertise in investment banking, M&A, and startup investments.

Skarul, an alumnus of Warsaw School of Economics and Harvard Business School, has a background in investment banking and mergers and acquisitions, with over 12 years of experience at Santander Bank Polska and Bank of America ML.

Adamski is a prolific angel investor and has spent over a decade in global capital markets, private equity, and venture capital. A graduate of Wake Forest University, Adamski has previously worked at mBank, Altus TFI, Bastion Investments, Mitchell Madison Group, and Pershing Square Capital Management.

Understanding market nuances: the key to successful expansion

When asked about the critical factors for Central European startups seeking to expand to Japan, Maciej Skarul emphasized the importance of trust and understanding. “Building trust and understanding are key components of a successful long-term partnership with Japanese corporates,” Skarul said for The Recursive.

“It is essential that startups demonstrate their understanding of their partner’s values and objectives, as well as present potential strategic benefits for their customers. Having a local partner also is a big help in establishing the presence which is also something that we want to bring to the table and support our portfolio companies in their expansion”, he adds.

Snapshot of ffVC’ first fund

In its first CEE-focused fund, launched in 2020, ffVC built a portfolio comprising nearly 20 European companies, several of which are based in CEE countries.

TensorFlight (Poland) and ReSpo.Vision (Poland) are two examples with AI solutions, and in the eCommerce arena we have Montonio (Lithuania) and Linker (Poland). The gaming and geospatial data sectors are also represented by the companies GGPredict (Poland) and EyeVi Technologies (Poland).

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Snezhana is an Innovation Journalist at The Recursive. She uses the power of storytelling to put the spotlight on the emerging innovation ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe. With a keen eye for the bleeding edge, she delves into the depths of deep tech, unearthing captivating stories that bridge the realms of science and human imagination.