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Belgian tech VC holds first close

Capricorn Venture Fund II has announced a E20m first close alongside deal flow and prospect assessment agreements with its investors.

Capricorn Venture Partners, the Belgian venture capital firm, has raised E20m in a first close for Capricorn Venture Fund II, a venture capital fund that will focus on early-stage technology-based growth companies in Belgium and the surrounding countries. Capricorn says its final target for the fund is between E70m and E125m.

Capricorn has raised the money from KBC Investco, the private equity arm of KBC Bank Verzekering, and KU Leuven university, contributing E3m and E10m respectively. A further E7m came from Capricorn’s managing partners Jos Peeters and Lieven Jaspaert and a number of private individuals.

The firm said the new fund targets early stage companies in a range of sectors, including hardware, software, biotech, medical devices and new materials. In the seven months since the launch of the fund, Capricorn has invested 30 per cent of the funds raised so far in five transactions including Amplexor, i-Merge, aXelera Solutions, UroGene and 4 AZA Bioscience.

Commenting on Capricorn’s current deal flow, Peeters said: “We see two to three good investments a day. Competition is falling away. When you see little competition the opportunities are really good and pricing is attractive. We see great opportunities with spin-offs of major corporations focusing on their core businesses and in the rollout of business-based Internet applications.”

The fund, which plans to make a total of between 15 and 20 investments, is currently the same size as Capricorn Venture Fund I when it closed in June 1997. This first fund is fully invested with 14 investments.

The venture capitalist has also announced a collaboration agreement with KBC Investco and KU Leuven university. KBC Investco will refer its entire flow of early-stage investment opportunities to Capricorn, while Leuven will help Capricorn analyse the patent positions of the companies in which it considers investing.

Earlier this year, Capricorn announced a merger with Neo Group Ventures, an early stage investor also based in the Belgian town of Leuven, whereby Neo transferred its venture capital investment management activity in early stage technology companies to Capricorn.