Global Brain launches US$175 million sixth fund

Japanese venture capital fund Global Brain Corporation has officially launched its sixth fund, its founder and CEO Yasuhiko Yurimoto announced at the firm’s annual Alliance Forum on December 8.

Founded in 2001, the corpus of Global Brain’s first and second fund totaled only at US$17.5 million. This latest fund is the sixth which is valued at US$175 million and has a first close at US$ 130 million, with the final close expected by June 2017.

This latest fund has been financed by more than 10 companies and academic institutions, including travel agency JTB, Mitsui Sumitomo Banking, Sumitomo Forestry, Information Services International-Dentsu, and the public-private entity Cool Japan Fund.

With the closed US$175 million VC fund, Global Brain will be targeting investments in startup ventures of various industries, including sectors such as the internet of things (IoT), hardware, enterprise, robotics, education, and e-commerce solutions.

The fund will aim to invest in a portfolio between 70 to 80 companies over a period of 10 years, with ticket size ranging from 200 million yen (about US$1.7 million) to 1 billion yen (US$ 8.67 million) each.

The fund is also focused on investing in ventures that can strengthen Japanese tourism in the 2017-2019 period, given the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics happening in 2020, Japan is in a time of change. We want to create an ecosystem that links this progress to a future beyond the Olympics,” Yurimoto said, emphasising an interest in ventures that could solve Japan’s societal and economic issues.

The future also includes a strong international focus, with Global Brain planning to deploy its capital in the startup ecosystems of Japan, Silicon Valley, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and Israel.

Southeast Asia, in particular, represents strong growth prospects for this fund, given the prevailing growth narrative of economies in the region.

This is a goal shared by its primary limited partners: the Cool Japan Fund, travel service conglomerate JTB, and mega-bank Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC).

With the closed US$175 million fund, this will bring the VC’s total funding raised to US$375 million, with its capital spread across 51 investments in 43 companies.

The firm’s portfolio list include Raksul – Japan’s own printing startup, Near – India’s location-based advertising venture, and Mercari – a used-goods application.

By Vivian Foo, Unicorn Media

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