Following the close of the new $350m Nokia Growth Partners’ fund dedicated to IoT, we made some questions to Managing Partner Bo Ilsoe about the new initiative, the strategy and targets ahead.
FinSMEs: Hi Bo, a new $350m fund dedicated to IoT. Is this a large opportunity?
Bo: Yes it is, we believe connecting everybody and everything through IoT solutions is the next big technological wave that will affect all aspects of our lives. It creates new opportunities for us to get higher awareness of the things around us, through IoT we can prevent diseases, use natural resources more efficiently, drive more safely and augment our homes, just to name a few examples. The rapidly growing IoT market offers new opportunities for both new experiences and the established industries.
FinSMEs: Let’s speak about the investment strategy of the new fund. What (and who) are you looking for?
Bo: We always look for capable and preferably repeat entrepreneurs with a winner attitude whose ambition it is to take their product global. With this fund we are specifically looking for the best companies in Connected Enterprise, Digital Health, Consumer Solutions and Connected Car as well as enabling technologies with a focus on capabilities in Big Data and Analytics.
FinSMEs: Do you plan to invest globally?
Bo: Yes, we are active in the US, Europe, China and India. This way we gain a unique perspective on the market that gives us an edge when making investment descisions. It’s also something we can provide back to Nokia and to the companies in which we invest as well.
FinSMEs: What do you mean when you speak about Connected Enterprise?
Bo: IoT affects the enterprise as the explosion of sensors, intelligent controllers and other connected devices in the Enterprise, and the massive volumes of data generated from them, create significant opportunities to increase business productivity and create new revenue streams. We are looking for companies that are bringing the Connected Enterprise to reality, through the innovative use of sensors, mobile connectivity and software-driven intelligence. An example of that is our recent investment in WorkFusion, a company that does workforce automation through making it easier for enterprises to collect and enrich unstructured data.
FinSMEs: Will backed companies be connected with Nokia ecosystem?
Bo: Only if they want to. We are an independent VC but we work closely with Nokia on internal research, business development, innovation and partnering. Over half of our portfolio companies have had meaningful business relationships with Nokia, beyond the funds.
FinSMEs: Connecting everybody and everything….a relentless process. Are we nearly there?…
Bo: The short answer is no… The industry estimates project 3.3x growth in the next five years to 50 billon IoT devices, 80% of which will be sensors and other new classes of devices. More data has been created in the past five years than in prior human history, yet IOT devices are expected to produce 44 billion zetabytes of data by 2020.