Startup Investments, Japan: Global Brain Teams Up with SMBC Group on its SMBC-GB Growth Fund

Global Brain Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), and SMBC Venture Capital Management Co., Ltd. will jointly establish JPY 30 billion “SMBC-GB Growth Fund” in order “to enhance its capabilities to invest in promising startups that will underpin future economic growth in Japan.”

While many startups are being founded in Japan, “the number of unicorns (unlisted companies valued at over JPY 100 billion) remains low compared to the United States and Europe.”

Due to the recent startup recession, overseas startup investment “has been decreasing in deal count and value since its peak in Q4 2021.”

The impact is particularly significant “at later stages, with down-round IPOs occurring, creating a challenging environment for startups to raise funds.”

In Japan, however, VC deal value “has not significantly declined since 2022, demonstrating a different trend from that in other regions.”

Global Brain sees the current situation “as a unique opportunity for Japanese startups and VCs to bring more Japanese startups to a global unicorn status.”

They are committed “to vigorously investing in new startups with potential to innovate the next generation of business.”

Under such circumstances, Global Brain, “working hand in hand with SMBC Group— one of the leading megabanks in Japan—, will set up a JPY 30 billion growth fund to enhance our robust support structure which is one of the most extensive in Japan.”

With our track record of supporting startups spanning from seed to growth stages, Global Brain will invest billions of yen in startups “that seek to make a strong impact on the Japanese economy and further back them to become unicorns.”

Global Brain has alsol invested in Imophoron Limited, a biotech startup developing novel vaccines using the ADDomer platform, “through its Meiji Yasuda Future Innovation Fund L.P. (Meiji Yasuda FIF).”

Imophoron is a Bristol-based preclinical-stage biotechnology company “developing a novel nanoparticle platform, ADDomer, to combat infectious diseases.”

ADDomer is a self-assembling, thermostable protein which “enables rapid design with nanoparticles with 180 epitopes.”

The ADDomer platform offers “a wide range of benefits ideal for next-generation vaccines. While conventional vaccines require refrigeration, ADDomer vaccines are exceptionally thermostable and can be stored and transported at room temperature.”

It could also be “suitable for intranasal delivery as an alternative to intramuscular, which could prevent an infection from becoming established in the first place rather than only protect against the development of symptoms.”

Furthermore, the production cost could be “lower than existing technologies, suitable for rapid design and production of a high number of vaccine doses for present and future infectious diseases, including “Disease X” outbreaks.”

Imophoron has already generated ADDomer vaccine candidates for the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), chikungunya and COVID-19.

The ADDomer platform also “has significant potential to generate therapeutic candidates to treat diseases with a high level of unmet needs, such as cancers.”

Global Brain has decided to invest in Imophoron, “recognizing the uniqueness and the significant advantages of the ADDomer technology platform, the experienced team and its proven track record, as well as its deep structural understanding of protein nanoparticles necessary to further develop the technology from prophylactic approaches to therapeutic approachesits.”

Global Brain will contribute “to the growth of Imophoron in cooperation with Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, leveraging our extensive network in the pharmaceutical and other industries worldwide.”

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