As the chief executive and co-founder of Amadeus Capital Partners Ltd, a UK-based global technology fund that manages over $1 billion (approx. Rs4,000 crore) of venture capital, Anne Glover serves on the board of start-ups such as Optos, which has developed laser-based imaging, and SPI Inc., a company that develops lasers and other optical components for use in industrial spaces. The 10-year-old fund, however, is now increasingly focusing on mobile technology, and has set up a seed fund dedicated to investments in this sector. At least 12 start-ups from the Amadeus Capital portfolio are now looking to market products and services in the Indian mobile market.
In an interview with Mint, Glover explains why Europe, which is home to the world’s largest telecom companies such as Nokia, Vodafone and Ericsson, is the next big market opportunity for Indian start-ups in this space. Edited excerpts:
When do you expect to make your first venture capital investment in India?
Amadeus is looking at three different types of association in the Indian market. We would like to invest directly in Indian start-ups, help our existing portfolio companies grow their business in India by acquiring or collaborating with start-ups in the communication space and helping Indian start-ups that are developing communication technologies link up with the large telcommunication companies in Europe. We are also looking to collaborate with our VC colleagues already operating in India. We are looking at all options, we are still understanding this market.
Do you see Amadeus as being a little late in entering this market?
We have been actively helping our portfolio companies into Asia for (the past) 5 years and have been coming into India for over two and a half years now. Yes, we have not made any investments in India as yet, we have been just helping our portfolio companies in Europe with potential merger and acquisition deals here or helping them close outsourcing deals. Right now, there are at least three or four potential deals in the telecom area that we are involved in.
What is the size of the corpus that Amadeus Capital now manages are these funds sector or region specific?
Amadeus has a total of $1 billion under management. It is a global fund and is not bound by geography. Since our inception 10 years ago, we have raised three funds, one of which has a corpus of $330 million and is very global in aspiration and has over 20 -25 companies that we have already invested in. We are looking to bring at least 12 of these portfolio companies to the Indian market. We also have two funds focused on seed stage investments.
What industry segments will Amadeus Capital focus on as you begin to invest in India?
We are a technology fund with interests in engineering. We will also look at ideas in mobile, broadband, medical diagnostics, clean technology and alternate energy resources. These are areas that we would be interested in. Many of our companies are in the alternate energy segment — it is one of the highest growth segment.
We have always been interested in the entrepreneurial environment in India. We are from a technology cluster in Cambridge in the UK and are interested in linking up wth similar clusters in India, such as in Bangalore. Broadly, we will look at telecom, digital media, enterprise solutions and software.
We have not invested in India as yet, but it is a possibility that we are exploring. Bangalore is a cluster we are looking at but then there are other very good ideas coming up in clusters such as Delhi/Gurgaon, and the whole mobile value added services play in Mumbai.
We are interested in bringing people together. Amadeus Capital is a big supoprter of the Cambridge Network, a cluster of 1000 high tech companies employing over 40,000 people. ARM, (an Amadeus investee company) that is into chip design, now has its largest design centre outside of Cambridge in Bangalore . We understand how it works in Europe — it is critical to be at the centre of high technology activity, and this always happens in clusters. We understand the importance of being in the hot spots where cutting edge technology work is being done.
What are the specific technology and services that Amadeus portfolio companies will bring to the Indian market?
We have 12 portfolio companies that are looking to work with Indian companies, mostly in the areas of communication technology, both broadband and mobile . As a technology focused fund, there are certain advantages that we bring to the table. For instance, we have a better understanding of the semiconductor design space. One of the successes in our portfolio is Cambridge Silicon Radio which has a 60% share of the global bluetooth product space. It is a Cambridge based company listed on the London Stock Exchange with a revenue of $800 million. Optos, a medical diagnostics company which has a technology that scans the back of the retina, in a non-invasive manner is finding application in diabetes care market and is one of our companies keen to enter the Indian market.
What are the mobile services on offer for the Indian market from Amadeus portfolio companies?
There are at least four mobile technology companies from our portfolio that are already active in the Indian market. Celltick, an Israeli company whose CEO is now based in the UK, offers mobile broadband solutions that has been deployed by Hutch, and we are now talking to Airtel.
Seven.com is another of our portfolio companies that is already active in India. It pushes email on to mobile phones without a blackberry, so if you are reading mail on your Hutch/Vodafone mobile then it is a serviec powered by Seven.com. They are also in talks with Airtel for this product. Another portfolio company looking at India is Aepona that builds mobile technology on open standards. We expect it to be deployed on Vodafone. We help these portfolio companies with strategy development, potential mergers, recruitments as they enter global markets. We provide a measure of credibility that is dificut for a start-up to acquire on its own.
You also have spoken of linking Indian start-ups with the mobile ecosystem in Europe, will this happen by way of direct investments or again through your existing portfolio?
The vast majority of telco players (Vodafone, British Telecom, Nokia , Ericsson ) are Europe-based. We feel there is not enough interconnect between these companies and communciation start-ups in India, which is the largest and most rapidly-growing mobile market worldwide. So, we want to invest in and help such start-ups link up with the European ecosystem. India is definitely a huge area of interest, there is a lot of potential and a lot of synerygy with European companies.