Today leading Dutch telecom company KPN announced the launch of KPN Ventures, a 35 million euro venture fund which will be used to invest in startups.
Keep in touch with the startup scene
One of the persons responsible for the launch of KPN Ventures is CFO Jan Kees de Jager. He is a former Minister of Finance and Secretary of State (2007-2012), but he also has a strong connection with internet-related entrepreneurship. In the past he worked as strategic partner for e-Commerce company ISM eCompany and before that he has been an entrepreneur since 1992.
According to De Jager, KPN is a big supporter of open innovation. By starting the venture fund, he wants to promote the development of innovative products by startups and at the same time facilitate commercialization of those products. De Jager: “Participating startups will be able to use KPN’s knowledge of connectivity and security and will have access to our network of millions of potential customers.”
The fund enables KPN to keep in touch with the startup scene. Over the years, KPN has worked together with several partners, including startups and KPN Ventures will be used to further strengthen the connection with the Dutch startup scene. Access to the flexible, innovative startup scene is seen as a key perquisite factor to accelerate future innovation.
KPN also expects that, by stimulating innovation, the KPN Ventures will contribute positively to the startup climate in The Netherlands.
Which startups will KPN Ventures invest in?
KPN says KPN Ventures wants to focus on three main areas:
– Digital media
Some examples of promising connectivity-related innovations that might be interesting to KPN, are software solutions for the monitoring of dikes and dams and several eHealth solutions. Another area where KPN sees possibilities for innovation in connectivity, is the Internet of Things, which concerns connecting cars, ATMs and coffee machines to the internet. A current example of KPN using the Internet of Things is LoRa, a low-frequency low-data network that enables long-range communication between machines via the internet. It will be used to remotely turn on street lights and to track shipping containers.
KPN Ventures and other Telecom venture capital
Competing telecom companies have been investing in startups for quite some time already. T-mobile started T-Venture in 1997 and Vodafone stepped into the game in 2001, with the launch of Vodafone Ventures. But also KPN itself has invested in startups before. Back in 2012, KPN participated in Fasttrack Ventures, later renamed to Shortcut Ventures. When KPN sold it’s subsidiary company E-plus to Telefónica in 2013, the fund was part of that deal.
KPN initially reserved 35 million euro for KPN Ventures, which will be invested in startups who’ll meet the fund’s criteria. Of course, KPN might eventually want to acquire participating startups, but they don’t necessarily have to.
Photo by Pieter van Marion (creative commons via Flickr)