The name of Taiwania Capital, a leading VC firm in Taiwan investing in innovative startups in high-tech and biotech sectors with $465mn USD under management, has a strikingly identical ending as the names of the countries – Lithuania, Czechia and Slovakia – it will be targeting. The Baltic Times Magazine spoke to Mr. David Weng, the CEO of Taiwania Capital.
Is such a name just a coincidence?
It is a happy coincidence. Taiwania Capital is named after Taiwania cryptomerioides, a unique tree species that took its name from Taiwan in 1906. With heights reaching up to 90 meters, the Taiwania tree is one of the tallest tree species in Asia, and diverse and vibrant ecosystems can be found surrounding it. By linking technology and capital, Taiwania Capital aspires to also create a robust ecosystem in Taiwan that is rooted in entrepreneurial innovation.
What is so unique about Taiwania’s CEE Fund?
Entrusted by Taiwan’s National Development Council, Taiwania Capital has been managing the Central and Eastern Europe Investment Fund (the CEE Fund) since March 2022. The Fund is dedicated to making equity investments in Taiwan and CEE companies with the objective of buttressing Taiwan’s economic and investment ties with democratic allies in Europe.
Taiwania was founded in 2017 as Taiwan’s national investment arm backed by resources and support from the Taiwanese Government and private enterprises.
Can you please talk about the milestones Taiwania has already succeeded in achieving?
Taiwania Capital is investing in innovative startups in the high-tech and biotech sectors with $465mn USD under management. The firm currently manages a total of four funds, and the fifth is to be launched in May 2022. Over the past four-plus years, Taiwania Capital has invested in 48 companies globally. In that timeframe, five portfolio companies have gone public in the U.S. and Taiwan. More importantly, the firm has connected international innovative startups with Taiwan’s renowned ICT and biotech industries through co-investments, supply chain, and technological collaborations. Most of our U.S. portfolio companies have developed technology and business ties with Taiwanese industries.
When will the official launch of Taiwania take place in Lithuania? What preparatory work is being done?
As mentioned, the Central and Eastern European Investment Fund was launched in late March 2022. Our team has been collaborating with officials of Taiwan and CEE countries to build connections with the innovation ecosystems of those countries. We will soon hold online introduction events with VC firms and startups in the CEE region.
Media reports say that 60-80% of Taiwania’s funding will be allocated to Lithuania, Czechia, and Slovakia, and the rest to other Central and Eastern European countries. Can companies from the other Baltic States of Latvia and Estonia apply for Taiwania grants?
We welcome all companies from the CEE region that are interested in economic corporate with Taiwan companies to apply to the CEE Fund. Taiwania’s CEE Investment Fund invests in Taiwan and CEE companies in strategically important sectors including semiconductor, laser optics, biotechnology, aerospace, fintech, EV, smart manufacturing, software development, and smart cities. The Fund is stage agnostic and will invest USD 200mn in the coming years. Priority is given to Taiwanese companies interested in investing in CEE and companies in CEE that would like to set up joint ventures, technological collaborations, or supply chain partnerships with Taiwanese companies.
Do you have a survey showing how many Taiwanese companies are interested in investing in Lithuania?
The National Development Council of Taiwan led a delegation of officials and business leaders to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania in October 2021. The visit led to 18 memoranda of cooperation signed between Taiwan and CEE countries in a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from science parks, aerospace, electric vehicles, smart cities, semiconductors, biotechnology, and finance. The $200mn USD Central and Eastern European Investment Fund was set up to further consolidate the efforts. Business participants of the 2021 delegation have shown interest, and we are in discussions with them to explore and evaluate investment opportunities.
Please talk about the investment process. What companies can apply and how? Is Taiwania going to invest only in expansion stage companies or large enterprises? Only in early-stage companies? How will the winners be chosen? Will Taiwania include local institutions in selecting companies for Taiwania investments? What will the local institutions be?
For any company interested, the first step is to contact us with a brief business plan (preferably in a slide deck format). From there, standard procedures will apply, including screening, due diligence, and a review by an investment committee. The CEE Fund operates as a private equity and venture capital fund by making equity investments in companies with innovative technologies and growth potential. The Fund is stage agnostic, and, therefore, companies at all stages of development are welcomed.
What sets the CEE Fund apart from other PE/VC funds is that we are dedicated to enhancing Taiwanese-CEE collaborations. As a result, our investment focus is on CEE companies that already have substantial partnerships or plan to develop such relationships with Taiwanese industries. This special condition is an important factor in our investment decisions, and any companies meeting the condition will be very much welcomed.
Can you please provide more information about Taiwania?
Taiwania’s four funds under management to date and another one to be launched in May 2022:
– Buffalo Fund I (2018, $150mn USD) focuses on AIoT
– Buffalo Fund II (2018, $200mn USD) focuses on biotech
– Buffalo Fund III (2021, $59mn USD) focuses on digital health and medical devices
– Buffalo Fund V (2021, $56mn USD) focuses on early-stage tech startups
- Central and Eastern European Investment Fund (2022, $200mn USD) focuses on Central and Eastern European companies
- Buffalo Fund VI (2022, $200mn USD) focuses on early growth tech startups (launching May 2022)
Taiwania’s six portfolio companies completed public listings or M&A in the U.S. and Taiwan:
– IPO: – EirGenix (2019, TPEx: 6589)
– Frequency (2019, Nasdaq: FREQ)
– C4 (2021, Nasdaq: CCCC)
– Viracta (2021, Nasdaq: VIRX)
– AEye (2021, Nasdaq: LIDR)
– M&A: – Oculii (2021)
Taiwania is currently planning and raising new funds (Buffalo VI, VII, etc.). What are they meant for?
The Buffalo series funds are dedicated to investments in startups with disruptive technologies in high-tech and biotechnology. The Buffalo Fund VI is the successor of Fund I, targeting the early to growth-stage startups in the high-tech sector.
What are the contacts for Taiwania?
We welcome any companies interested in Taiwanese-CEE collaboration to contact us. Our contact info is:
Will Taiwania have its representative office in Lithuania?
Venture capital is a local business that requires comprehensive knowledge and close connections with local industries and innovation ecosystems. As such, we will have two or three team members based in CEE countries, including one in Lithuania, to cover the whole region.
“Lithuania is a priority for the CEE fund to invest in as Taiwan and Lithuania are like-minded and technologies of the two countries are complementary and synergic,” said Mr. Eric Huang, Representative of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.