Find here the interview of Mehdi Naciri, student involved in the Chair “Finance for Innovation ans Analyst intern at Solvay Ventures, the Corporation Venture Capital of Solvay. He presents his activity, and his motivations to work in the entrepreneurial finance’s ecosystem.
Hello Mehdi, could you introduce yourself in a few words?
I am a final year student in the Grande Ecole Program at Audencia in Corporate Finance. I did a first internship at France Angels, the National Federation of Business Angels, which currently groups 72 Business Angels networks throughout the country, then a second internship at Solvay Ventures.
Why did you choose a Corporate Venture Capital fund?
My first internship at France Angels as a project manager was a trigger. I had the chance to evolve in the captivating ecosystem of French entrepreneurship and learned as I went along the role and interest of the different actors. This internship made me want to continue my apprenticeship in venture capital and push the boundaries beyond France. My choice of Solvay Ventures was naturally made because of its international dimension and its historical commitment to innovation.
Can you briefly describe Solvay Ventures' activity?
Solvay Ventures is the Venture Capital fund of the Solvay Group, a global leader in chemicals, committed to innovation and sustainable development. It was created in 2005 with offices in Brussels, Paris, Boston, San Francisco and Shanghai. Solvay Ventures has more than $100m of assets under management and a focus on advanced materials and with applications in energy transition, sustainable resources, health and industry 4.0. In addition to providing capital to startups, Solvay Ventures mobilizes Solvay's capabilities and network to create synergies and partnerships between Solvay's startups, Business Units and Innovation Platforms.
And in your opinion, what is the role of CVC funds in the French startup ecosystem?
Corporate venture capital (CVC) refers to venture capital funds created by large groups that finance innovative start-ups by taking minority stakes. Although there are fewer CVCs than VC funds, this activity is nevertheless booming as it represents a strategic tool for companies that must remain at the forefront of innovation. For startups, the investment of CVC funds represents an excellent leverage, because in addition to the capital contributed, CVCs give strong credibility to startups, allow them to benefit from their network, experts and especially their production capacities.
And precisely, about this expertise, what did your internship at Solvay consist of?
At Solvay Ventures, my work mainly consisted in conducting in-depth market reviews on emerging investment areas. The objective was to provide insights on topics such as innovation trends, segmentation, the emergence of new business models, VC activity in this field, but also a mapping of start-ups and investment recommendations. I also presented the results of these reviews to the investment committee, the Business Units concerned and also to stakeholders in the form of a Webinar. Finally, I was also able to support the fund's activities.