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First European Sovereign Wealth Fund Backs Tioga Capital’s Blockchain Fund

Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie to invest in the Tioga Capital fund, a Luxembourg-based venture capital company 100% focused on blockchain.

Photo: From the left, the Tioga team with Nicolas Priem, Olivier Lefebvre, Michiel Lescrauwaet and Patrick Van de Mosselaer / Credits © Tioga Capital

Tioga Capital is a European Venture Capital fund focused on blockchain technology. The team backs exceptional founders and blockchain protocols that bring people closer to a world of more individual sovereignty, trust, and privacy.

Société Régionale d’Investissement de Wallonie (SRIW), a sovereign wealth fund, manages assets of about $4 billion worth.

The organization positions itself as a long-term investor in Wallonia, Belgium’s French-speaking region. It finances innovative startups through Wallonia Innovation and Growth (WING), its investment body dedicated to innovation and digital projects.

“Tioga is the first blockchain venture fund backed by a European sovereign wealth fund, while such entities tend to be conservative and amongst the last ones to venture into new technologies and strategies,” the VC company said in a press release.

“Today, Europe counts about the same number of blockchain startups as the US.”

Second broader close in 2021

Besides SRIW, the vehicle is also backed by Belgian family offices (including Van Hool or Vlerick) and tech entrepreneurs (inclunding Jurgen Ingels).

The investment fund was created by serial entrepreneur Patrick Van de Mosselaer, private equity professional Nicolas Priem, tech/crypto investor Michiel Lescrauwaet and the tax and fund lawyer Olivier Lefebvre. Their Luxembourg based investment fund has recently held a first close at $17M under management.

“The US has had a head start on that front where the first institutional investors started building exposure to blockchain technology in 2019. Not surprisingly, this trend was kicked off by the Yale endowment, managed by legendary David Swenson” says Lescrauwaet.

Van de Mosselaer adds: “Yale was also one of the first investors in the internet in the nineties. This has led them to build expertise early on, which the endowment capitalized on in future decades: it is the best performing endowment in the US.

In Europe, on the other hand, providing growth funding has always been slower. In this context we’re extremely excited that we can bring the first European sovereign wealth fund on board to support the European blockchain & crypto ecosystem”

“European startups are often looking for a strong local partner with a network in Europe. That is where we step in.”

Market dislocation

The VC company says it is planning a second broader close in 2021.

With the commitment of new investors on the blockchain fund segment, such as sovereign wealth funds, Tioga’s founders see an opportunity for European blockchain startups to raise new funding.

“Today, Europe counts about the same number of blockchain startups as the US. On the funding side however, there is a big discrepancy in the market. Where the US has more than 100 specialized VC funds, Europe only has a handful,” they explained.

“What we see in the market today is American VCs doing more and more deals in Europe as valuations are more attractive. However, European startups are often looking for a strong local partner with a network in Europe. That is where we step in”.

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