TOKYO -- Japanese funds dedicated to backing startups amounted to 276.3 billion yen ($2.45 billion) last year, the largest sum since 2008 amid the rise of university-linked and larger independent venture capital funds.
The figure comes from Tokyo-based Japan Venture Research, which looked at startup funds established in 2016 targeting domestic businesses. Venture capital groups and nonfinancial companies set up 53 such funds that year. Although the number is fewer than the 58 funds created in 2015, the level remains above the 47 founded in 2014.
The aggregate value of last year's funds exceeded the 236.1 billion yen invested in 2015, marking the third straight year the figure topped 200 billion yen.
Independent funds grew to 121.2 billion yen in 2016, making up 44% of the total. The sum is also a significant jump from the 18.2 billion yen in 2015. Jafco's 65 billion-yen fund accounted for a large portion of the difference.
University-linked funds stood at 56 billion yen last year, up from 41.1 billion in 2015. Along with the University of Tokyo's 23 billion-yen fund, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Keio University have also partnered with businesses to establish funds, bringing the total number of such vehicles to six.