13 Sep 2016
Laser giant says ‘Trumpf Venture’ will aim to back around five start-up companies every year.
Ditzingen, Germany, based Trumpf, the world’s largest industrial laser company and a major player in machine tools, has set up its own venture capital fund.
Said to have been active since the start of July, the company is working to establish an investment portfolio of around €40 million, focused on start-up companies involved in photonics, as well as new manufacturing processes, novel materials and intelligent components.
“The aim of the [venture] company is to fund promising young companies that want to play a major role in shaping the future of industry,” announced Trumpf, adding that the €40 million portfolio would be established over the coming five years.
“Once we get into our stride, we plan to participate in around five start-ups per year,” it added. “As a strategic investor, we want to use our network, our industrial production expertise and our technological know-how to assist start-ups with market launch and successful growth.” said Christof Siebert, who heads up technology management at the firm.
Karlsruhe venture festival
Of particular interest to the laser firm are innovations and entrepreneurship in the fields of photonics and digitally connected production.
“We’re already having discussions with [the] first start-ups, and assuming that we’ll be able to make investments relatively soon,” Siebert added. “As a partner of the forthcoming CODE_n new.New Festival in Karlsruhe, we’ll soon be making contact with further interesting start-ups.”
That festival takes place next week, with Trumpf Venture’s investment manager Franz Lehmann – previously a strategy consultant at McKinsey – due to present. Marco Holzer, head of product management and logistics services in Trumpf’s laser technology department, is also on the agenda.
Ulrich Simon, senior VP of research and technology at Carl Zeiss, is another senior photonics industry representative among the list of speakers, which boasts representatives of blue-chip firms including the likes of ThyssenKrupp Steel, Robert Bosch, Vodafone, Audi, and others.
Familiar faces from photonics academia taking part in the event include Andreas Tünnermann, director of the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, and Jürgen Popp, scientific director of the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology and an expert in biophotonics.
Trumpf says that the new venture company is an extension of its existing innovation activities, intended to detect disruptive technologies at an early stage and work in tandem with efforts within its own extensive research and development activities and links with relevant technological centers of excellence – like the laser diode development center that it set up with Berlin’s Ferdinand-Braun-Institut last year.
Back in 2014, Trumpf also founded its own bank, with a view to providing industry-specific finance and appealing primarily to customers in the manufacturing technology sector. At the time, Trumpf president Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller said:
"We are closer to our customers than many traditional bank representatives, we are active in the real economy, and we provide for reinvestment in the German mechanical engineering sector."