Suzuki launches Rs 340 crore investment vehicle Next Bharat Ventures for Indian startups

Japan's Suzuki Motor Company has launched Next Bharat Ventures, its venture investing arm for the Indian market with a corpus of Rs 340 crore to back early-stage startups.

The vehicle will be a subsidiary of Suzuki, which will also be the sole limited partner (LP) of the first fund, Vipul Nath Jindal, MD and CEO of Next Bharat Ventures, told. LPs are sponsors in funds.

Jindal, who was previously head of Suzuki's innovation center in Japan, said the vehicle will not be like a typical corporate venture capital (CVC) arm, but will instead operate as an independent unit of Suzuki, with the local team deciding the investments.

Next Bharat will invest in early-stage companies through the residency programme. The first cohort will begin in October for which it started receiving applications on Thursday. These programmes will be similar to those run by Antler, and Y Combinator and others, but with a focus on startups that are generating social impact through their businesses.

Based in GIFT City, Gujarat, Suzuki will likely run the residency programme in Bengaluru.

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"We don't expect participants to be in the city all the time... Although the city offers the space and opportunity to learn and network, they are influential startup founders and will likely need to be on the ground a lot," Jindal said. That flexibility.”

Next Bharat aims to make up to 20 investments every year over the next three to four years. It will look to invest Rs 1-8 crore in each startup.

“We are looking for for-profit firms whose work will also have a very clear social benefit... and we are looking to start investing in sectors like agritech, supply chain management, financial inclusion, rural mobility, among others,”  he added.

The investments will have a term of 15 years versus 10 years plus two years. "This is a difficult sector to build a business in, but we want to be the patient capital these investors need," Jindal said.

Bharat Next will focus on businesses that benefit informal economy workers, such as casual workers and waste management workers, as well as rural economy workers, including farmers and artisans.

It will also act as a fund of funds (FoF), investing as an LP in other smaller funds.

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