Uni.Fund is today announcing a €50m first close of its second fund to back university spinouts and startups across Europe; its first fund only backed companies in the Greek ecosystem. The fund is targeting a final close of €60m by the end of the year.
Where will the money be deployed?
Partner Katerina Pramatari tells Sifted that the fund is looking to make between 20 and 25 seed-stage deals, with initial cheque sizes ranging from €200k to €1.5m. More than 50% of the fund will be kept for follow-on rounds.
There’ll be a core focus on backing spinouts coming out of research institutes and universities, but a portion of the fund will also be set aside for non-university startups.
The Greek tech ecosystem
Pramatari says that the average seed-stage investment in Greece was around €500k five years ago, but since then the average ticket size has increased as the market has matured, also pushing up Uni.Fund’s maximum cheque size to €1.5m.
In the majority of cases Uni.Fund leads deals, and the team works with portfolio companies to define go-to-market strategies, scale and, in the case of research-based spinouts, help technically focused founders bring in the operational expertise they need to grow.
“We’ll continue on this path because we are at the early stage of a not very mature market,” Pramatari says. “The market has opportunities but still needs a lot of education. That’s not only relevant to Greece, but also the space around universities and researchers across Europe.”
Uni.Fund is sector agnostic, but Pramatari indicates there are several areas the fund is particularly focused on, including:
- The circular economy
- The Internet of Things
- Healthtech related to ageing populations (not life sciences)
- Fintech, and in particular insurtech
Raising a fund for university spinouts
Backing university spinouts — which are often in deeptech areas like AI, life sciences, quantum and semiconductors — can be risky, because the business models of the companies in that space can take longer to get to market, have regulatory barriers to overcome and are capital intensive.
That means LPs want to see a fund strategy that involves other areas of investment, to derisk the university element, according to Pramatari. Uni.Fund’s LPs include the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the Hellenic Development Bank of Investments.
“I think in our case what has worked really well is having a mixed strategy,” she says. “I think if we only had these university cases, we wouldn't be able to raise from private investors because of the higher risk that segment has.
“Our first fund invested in one-third spinouts, one-third startups related to the university space and one-third more mature cases… the impression is we’ll follow similar percentages for our new fund.”