The fund that bets on frontier startups in Italy

The fund that bets on frontier startups in Italy

The new 40 million euro capital increase for Liftt will arrive in the first quarter of 2023, the venture capital fund founded two years ago by Stefano Buono, scientist and serial entrepreneur today at the helm of Newcleo, the company that intends to develop nuclear reactors fourth generation. Funding will start in the first months of the new year, with a minimum stake that should be around € 100,000 per investor. Today Liftt has 159 members, has already collected 46.5 million euros and has invested 28 million euros in 30 startups. For 2022, 24 million investments have been planned, 13 already made and 11 expected by the end of the year.

In Newcleo Liftt has staked 4 million euros in two rounds and is by far the most important investment in the bottom. In other companies, an average of 300 thousand euros goes for about 30% of shares, in order to have enough cash for follow-ons and room for maneuver to dilute when and if necessary. "We are an evergreen fund: we do not want to be forced to divest and we must give projects the opportunity to mature - explains the CEO of Liftt, Giovanni Tesoriere -. It is not our goal to have control of a company: we aim for 10-15% of shares in a mature startup, so at the beginning we try not to take more than 30%. It is important for the founder to keep control of his company ”, emphasizes the manager.

Liftt bets on technology transfer

Liftt's business model is focused on frontier technology that comes from universities and research centers. Pure tech transfer. “We started in March 2020, in five years we want to invest in 100 projects in different technological sectors. We invest in several sectors to reduce risk and verticality is only in the territory: Italian or foreign companies operating in Italy - adds Treasurer -. We identify projects at a very early stage and help the founders to build the industrial project. A fundamental project management activity to help companies to structure themselves. In Italy there is a lot of research, but those who hold the know-how have little entrepreneurial attitude, for us it is a great opportunity ".

The thirty startups in which Liftt has invested to date are just 2% of the 1,800 that have been sifted through the team. A very tough selection process. "We try to be as less discretionary as possible, we try to structure analytical tools and approaches both from the point of view of analysis and evaluations", explains Cristina Odasso, Head of business analyst at Liftt.

The final goal is "enhancing the intellectual property generated by research" and the lack of a patent is not a problem if the idea is good: "Even if there is only one submission, with the granting process that can take years, we do our analysis and we take the risk ". The 24 million euros that will be invested at the end of 2022 in new and old acquaintances are proof, stresses Odasso, that risk pays: "The portfolio is evolving in the desired direction, with many companies ahead with their development plans".

The first exits in 2024

Although the fund's motto is "Not only profit" with an "evergreen" investor approach, Liftt is still a venture capital and looks to the first exits for start remunerating shareholders (including all employees). “We will begin to have the first exits as early as 2024”, explains Treasurer. Four startup candidates for which, reveals the CEO, "they have already come knocking, but we have considered it appropriate to stay in order to mature the technology".

For what presents itself as "a factory that generates companies" an already not bad result, obtained thanks to a team of 20 people - highlights the CEO - "which deals with fueling the business and scouting , in universities and research centers. Because we cannot expect them to propose themselves ”. To finance the development plans, therefore, space for new hires: today Liftt is looking for a professional figure who can enhance the startups in its portfolio in view of the exits, but soon the team of business analysts and project managers will also increase.