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Conception of BUDHA, an Initiative between Blume Ventures and UTEC: Blume UTEC Deep tecH Accelerator, from India to the World


Announcing BUDHA Initiative in Blume Day on 28th Feb 2019 in Mumbai, India Nath and Reddy, Managing Partners from Blume Ventures with UTEC Managing Partner Goji, Partner Sakamoto and Venture Partner Mysore

Ever since we UTEC raised our fourth flagship fund UTEC 4 of ¥24.31 billion (approx. $220 million) in 2018, we have been actively investing in Japanese and overseas startups. In fact, a good chunk of our overseas investments has gone into the India-SE Asia startup corridor, as India is the fastest growing large economy in the world with a young population and burgeoning middle-class. Until recently, much of the entrepreneurial activity in India, however, was mostly focused on market-driven B2C and SaaS startups. Today, we believe that India is at an inflection point showing early evidence of startups using deep technologies to innovate for the world and solve global issues, as Japan was 15 years ago when UTEC started as one of the first science-and-deep-tech oriented VC firms. 

UTEC Representation in Blume Day 2019

In his keynote speech at Blume Day 2019 in Mumbai, India, Tomataka Goji, UTEC Managing Partner & President, reminisced the inception of UTEC in 2004 when there were only a few science & deep-tech oriented VC firms in Japan. Then Goji left the Japanese government where he authored the VC fund legal system of the country, to co-found UTEC with a dream to create a venture ecosystem in Japan, by implementing the ethos of the enactment in investing in scientific & deep-tech startups, which could parallel Japan’s established industries. Goji added that UTEC has achieved 10 IPOs and almost as many M&A’s out of around 100 portfolio companies to date, highlighting the IPOs of biopharmaceutical drug discovery startup PeptiDream, Inc and industrial drone startup Autonomous Control System Laboratory, Inc. (ACSL), both of which emerged out of Japanese academia and became globally successful with UTEC’s proactive support. He also observed that the world needs more such deep tech-based startups to tackle global issues of humankind, especially in the recent world where countries are divided due to conflicts and confrontations. Drawing parallels between the deep-tech venture ecosystem of Japan in 2004 to that of India today, Goji remarked that a few success stories can give birth to a plethora of deep-tech startups going forward, emanating from India into the rest of the world. It is for this very purpose that we partnered with Blume to launch BUDHA: Blume UTEC Deep tecH Accelerator.

Keynote Speech by UTEC’s Managing Partner Goji at Blume Day 2019

Noriaki Sakamoto, a Partner at UTEC, also participated in a panel exploring the rise of Indian Science & Engineering with the likes of Dr. Charit Bhograj, CEO of Tricog Health and Prof. C. S. Murali, Chairman of STEM Cell Incubator of Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Sakamoto outlined UTEC’s investment thesis related to India and also shared some of the strategies used by UTEC to commercialize innovations coming out of universities as successful startups.

Deep-tech panel at Blume Day 2019

UTEC’s Investments in India

UTEC led a $4million Series A round in Singapore-headquartered Indian startup Tricog Health in early 2018. Tricog uses state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to analyze ECG (Electrocardiogram) and offer real-time diagnosis of heart diseases. Tricog is operational in over 1200 health-centers across 12 countries with over 1.7 million diagnosed ECGs. We introduced Tricog to some of the top medical device manufacturers in Japan, potential business partners, and Japanese cardiologists to expand Tricog’s market base in SEA/Japan and complement Tricog’s scientific R&D. This deal also become our first example of collaboration with Blume Ventures, who had funded Tricog in seed-stage.

Bugworks Research became our second investment in India, when we led a $9M Series A funding round in Aug 2018. Bugworks tackles the global Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) crisis by developing novel class of antibiotics against all-known classes of drug resistant bacteria. The Bugworks Research lab in Bangalore has a team of several scientists with PhDs in the fields of Biotechnology, Medicinal Chemistry, Microbiology and Pharmaceutical Sciences with a combined experience of over 200 years. After our investment, we introduced Bugworks to Prof. Satoshi Murakami of Tokyo Institute of Technology for collaborative R&D. Prof. Murakami, who discovered the crystal structure of bacterial multidrug efflux transporter AcrB, has also joined Bugworks’ technical board as scientific advisor.

The aforementioned case studies gave us early indications that complementing Indian deep-tech startups with Japanese industrial and scientific collaborations can potentially create success cases at a global scale. It is for this reason that we decided to partner with Blume Ventures by investing in their $80M Fund III as one of the anchor LPs. Founded in 2010 by Karthik Reddy and Sanjay Nath, Blume is India’s foremost and most active tech-focused early stage VC firm. The emergence of GreyOrange, Tricog, Locus, Stellapps, and many more innovation-heavy early winners across Funds I and II gives Blume an upper hand today in driving the best founders to work with them and create a repeatable product success story overseas.

 BUDHA Initiative – Objectives and Support

The program is meant to help seed and pre-Series A companies commercializing science & technology in India and beyond.  The sectors of interest include, but are not limited to, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Agriculture, IoT, Robotics, FinTech and AI to deliver fundamental solutions.

The objectives of BUDHA are twofold:

●Establish that Indian technology companies working on deep science and technology can compete with the best in the world. With Blume’s local Indian support of capital, mentorship and networks and UTEC’s global reach, deep knowledge of cutting-edge technology and access to the Japanese market, these companies can emerge as winners in any global marke

●Identify academic institutions in India that excel in promoting such innovation and entrepreneurship and establishing linkages with such institutes, to systematically evaluate the companies being built by their student and research base

BUDHA offers the following areas of support to an incubate startup:

● Help in fundraising at all stages of the startup journey, primarily through Blume and UTEC

Access to science & technology experts in Asia through collaborative research opportunities with some of the best universities, including The University of Toky

●Access to the Japanese market through corporate relationships of UTEC, the Indian market through Blume, and other global markets (e.g. Silicon Valley, SE Asia to name a few) through joint efforts between UTEC and Blum

●Mentoring in the core areas of business creation, marketing, business partnerships, regulation and other areas through frequent meetings with Blume and UTEC team

Our mission at UTEC is to help create scientific & deep-tech startups to solve global issues of humankind. In this regard, we are excited about our investments emanating from India to the world and our partnership with Blume Ventures, culminating with the launch of BUDHA Initiative.

UTEC was featured in India’s most popular tech media “YourStory”