Delegates from two dozen states and institutions met in California last week to launch a leadership society that will help connect governments to corporate venturing units.

Global Government Venturing last week invited delegates from two dozen states, countries and institutions to a workshop at the annual Global Corporate Venturing & Innovation (GCVI) Summit.

Attendees came from countries including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Ghana, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK and the US, states such as California and institutions including the UN.

The workshop included a lively discussion during which representatives presented the approaches of their respective cities, countries and organisations.

Many of the attending government representatives were from organisations which ramped up their efforts ony within the past decade, showing an increased willingness by public officials to recognise the importance of such efforts.

British Business Bank, the UK’s economic development bank, for example, was created in 2014, following earlier opinion that the country had no need for such an institution. Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, was similarly launched only five years ago and aims to support the local ecosystem by helping corporates fundraise.

On the other hand, organisations such as Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) have been active for several decades. BDC has grown to be the largest VC investor in the country. Canada suffers a distinct lack of corporate venture capital, also observed at other panels during the conference, though BDC is aiming to change that and in April 2017 is holding a conference to bring together corporations.

CSIRO, the research agency of Australia responsible for ground-breaking inventions such as wifi and plastic money, has also been active for many decades and has seen its budget increase for the first time in 20 years – a time when governments around the world have been cutting research funding.

Helsinki Business Hub has created a local ecosystem in the Finnish capital that includes some 500 startups and is supported by discussions with more than 100 corporate venturing subsidiaries, while Ghana is still in the early days of that journey and aiming to experience similar growth.

It was a letter of intent between California and the Netherlands just ahead of the GCVI Summit, however, that drove the decision to launch a Global Government Venturing Leadership Society.

California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, and the Netherlands are partnering to establish a platform that will aid entrepreneurs from both regions with capital and support. Other governments expressed interest in following a similar path as described by Jan Dexel, senior policy adviser and program manager, venture capital, at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Teveia Barnes, executive director at California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.

Jan Dexel,
Jan Dexel, senior policy adviser and program manager, venture capital, at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs

The leadership society will act as a vehicle to connect corporate venturing units to contacts within the governments of countries in which they want to invest as well as local contact points for nascent corporate venturing networks developing within a country.

Paul Morris, corporate venture capital adviser at the UK Department for International Trade’s venture capital unit, has been elected president of the Global Government Venturing Leadership Society.

The government attendees agreed to be or try to find a government representative to act as a point person for local and international CVCs in their country or region. Other countries are invited to join, and on the main GCVI Summit stage, corporate venturers were asked to suggest who beyond the government people present might be interested in joining. The second request to CVCs who want to engage with such point people was to provide feedback about what might be useful for their local ecosystem.

Global Government Venturing will provide its next update on actions on May 23 in London at the annual GCV Symposium.

James Mawson, editor-in-chief of Global Government Venturing, will act as initial contact person for people interested in joining the society. Contact for more details.

Marja-Liisa Niinikoski, CEO of Helsinki Business Hub

– Additional reporting by James Mawson, editor-in-chief