Investing early in gamechanging science- and deeptech founders
Starting in Q4 2019, I embarked on a new adventure and joined IST cube as a Partner. As some people asked me about my motives, I thought I sum it up in a blog post.
IST cube is an Austrian-based early-stage Venture Capital Fund. We invest early in founders using science and technology to define the future. We aim to be the first institutional investor supporting extraordinary founders through the early stages of their startup journey. We invest in spin-offs, pre-seed and seed rounds and have the ability to follow-on in later stages. We are happy to lead those rounds, but we are open for co-investments and are happy to work with fellow investors.
Looking back to 2015, I got the chance to join aws Gründerfonds, a 70m Early Stage Fund, as an Investment Manager. Having a background in business and law as well as some founding/operating experience in tech, I had the opportunity to lead investment rounds and work with some of the most inspiring and ambitious founders and their teams in our geographic scope. I am grateful to those founders, my co-investors, partners, advisors, colleagues and friends for the successes, the experiences and the learnings I was allowed to make as investor and board member to those startups. Certainly, I will still be rooting for the aws Gründerfonds portfolio companies to succeed!
The story behind — the next technology paradigm
Personally, I have a deep passion and interest for technology and its impact on humanity. Lots of my thoughts about our world and our future are in fact driven by questions like: How did we as humanity evolve through history, driven by technology and ended up at the status quo? How do societies use technology to create a world that thrives and empowers future generations? And how can I personally contribute to that?
Throughout history, the unstoppable motivation of people combined with science and technology have been the defining factors of human development and have shown incredible (exponential, even) progress. This led us to amazing achievments, like information that is available in real-time everywhere, massive progress in mobility, energy and our understanding of health, biology and life itself. However, the more we know, the less we seem to know how to move on in certain aspects and there is a tremendous amount of challenges (=opportunities) we currently face. The good news is, I believe, lots of them can be addressed through science and technology. But in the end, technology is neither ultimately good nor bad, but a deeply human endeavour and therefore we must work hard to use it in a positive way.
We are lucky to live in one of the most exciting times to be alive and we are at a tipping point in our development — the next 10 years will define the realities of the next couple hundred years. There is a new technology paradigm arising, and it will be different from what we have seen in the last 20 years. We will see tremendous achievements in Computer Sciences, Life Science as well as Material Sciences, especially through the confluence of technologies like machine learning, robotics, sensor technology, 3D printing, genetics, snythetic biology and many others. Thanks to the advances in those areas of technology, bringing along significant cost reductions and the unprecedented speed-up of sciencetific processes, science itself faces a radical changes in discovery, production and commercialization.
This will influence every industry and every aspect of our lives. Even if we are early in some of those technological development cycles, the opportunities are significant, to say the least. The current period is a window of opportunity — an opportunity to define the standards upon which humans and machines will jointly evolve.
However, the driving forces behind science and technology are always people. To enable the hungry, ambitious, driven inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs in those areas to bring their technology to the market is what I strive to do. We should be empowering startups that build solutions to real-world problems. In the end, venture capital means believing in people and their visions, mostly before others do, even if you don’t have a clue what will succeed in the end. I am thrilled to get the chance to work with some of the most talented people in the world working on amazing technologies leading us into a positive future!
Summing it up, the three big checkmarks that led me to my decision to join IST cube are the 3P: People that are fantastic to work with, Positioning of our fund and opportunity and the Philosophy (or Purpose) of doing something I believe in and be happy to get out of the bed for in the morning.
Together with my fantastic partners in the fund, we will back those inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs and their technology-based solutions to major problems of humanity and I am convinced we can generate significant returns for our fund investors by applying our thesis.
IST cube — A strong USP & opportunity
As an independent venture capital firm, IST cube is uniquely positioned to invest in and work with scientific and deeptech entrepreneurs. Situated in one of the most fantastic countries to live in, Austria, there is top scientific research and academics environment producing a very high number of STEM graduates coming out of it every year. Furthermore, Nature lists Austria globally as one of the six top scientific challenger states.
Combine that with a strong culture of engineering and R&D, as well as a significant base of established industries like manufacturing, machinery and plant engineering, pulp & paper, construction, biotech, chemicals, electronics and others, you can easily see why we are well situated to benefit from the next technological wave by using those assets.
Located at IST Austria, according to Nature one of the top 3 global leading research institutes with research fields in Life Sciences, Computer Sciences and Physical Sciences, we can tap into a network of the best brains in many fields. On top of our investments and this world-class network, we are able to support our portfolio companies with access to infrastructure like machine shops, nanofabrication facilities, computing labs, bioimaging facilities and wet labs, assets that no other institutional VC can provide in our geographic scope at that level.
Together with my experienced partners and colleagues at IST cube, we believe that based on those facts we are able to fill at least part of the still significant equity funding gap in our geography and support traditionally underserved entrepreneurs in building game-changing companies.
Happy to connect
One last thing — we are actively investing, so we are happy to get in touch with interesting startups and spin-offs that are seeking capital and are ready to start the next chapter of their entrepreneurial quest. We love to hear more about those plans ;)
PS: Further interesting reading: