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Kyoto University venture fund and Chinese peer to grow startups

Institution-backed companies target China as a base for clinical trials of drugs

Chinese venture capital eyes startups from Kyoto University, which is well-known for its research findings. (Photo by Kento Awashima)

KYOTO -- Kyoto University is combining venture capital with that from a peer in the Chinese city of Guangzhou to help startups from the university do business in China and other Asian markets.

This marks the first time that venture capital from a Japanese national university using public money is partnering with overseas capital. The venture between the wholly owned Kyoto University Innovation Capital, or Kyoto iCAP, and Infinite Capital Holding is expected to reach an agreement as early as Friday.

Infinite Capital Holding was established in January 2017 as a joint venture comprising 76 private-sector companies, mainly from the southern province of Guangdong. Of these, 53 are listed.

Details of the partnership will be ironed out later but the two funds will first introduce university-backed startups to promising areas in China and elsewhere as well as help them establish a presence in local markets.

About 40% of Kyoto-iCAP's investors are in the medical and biotechnology fields. The fund aims to have the startups use China as a base for clinical trials on new drugs.

The Chinese company is very interested in startups originating at the university. To prevent unintended technology transfers, Kyoto-iCAP will advise the startups on capitalization planning and management of intellectual property.

Kyoto-iCAP was established to commercialize on the university's research findings, which have a solid reputation.

Infinite Capital Holding focuses on collaborating with researchers at key universities and other institutions, and has tie-ups with investment managers worldwide. Assets under management total about 10 billion yuan ($1.44 billion), mostly in the life science sector.

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