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TIM marks return to VC investment with UV T-Growth launch

TIM has marked its return to the venture capital space with the launch of UV T-Growth, a fund dedicated to later stage investment in companies linked to 5G technologies.

UV T-Growth was created by United Ventures, a Milan-based VC outfit, last summer with TIM Ventures as its anchor investor. TIM Ventures is, as its name suggests, the Italian incumbent’s venture capital arm. UV T-Growth has now started operations, having collected subscriptions for €100 million; it aims to reach €180 million by next year.

TIM did not specify how much it is in for. However, when it first shared details of the fund last year it said that it would subscribe €60 million. At the time, the fund had a collection target of €150 million, some €30 million less than the target figure the companies shared this week.

The fund, which is managed independently by United Ventures, is open to participation from other Italian and international investors.

UV T-Growth is targeting investments of €10 million-€15 million on average in “the most promising entrepreneurial realities of digital innovation, contributing to the evolution of ultra-broadband networks and next-generation services,” the companies said, in a statement. Essentially, it is looking at buying into firms working with some of the biggest buzzwords in the telecoms and technology space at present; its list comprises: 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), network infrastructure, cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, Industry 4.0, data and analytics, fintech, SaaS, and gaming. All of the above sit alongside TIM’s 5G business.

“The launch of UV T-Growth can represent a key resource in the development of the Italian and European technology ecosystem because it covers a significant gap in the supply of Venture Capital for innovative companies in the growth phase,” said Massimiliano Magrini and Paolo Gesess, Founders and Managing Partners of United Ventures.

“The fact that it represents the return of TIM as a long-term investor in Venture Capital represents a strong validation of the growth of the technology ecosystem,” they added.

Back in July TIM’s chief financial officer Giovanni Ronca, declared that TIM was “decisively relaunch[ing] its presence in the venture capital market,” while on Tuesday there was a slightly more measured comment from TIM Ventures CEO Carlo Tursi who noted that the company believes “venture capital is the right tool to accelerate innovation.”

TIM Ventures came into being in 2014 with the modest aim of ploughing €4.5 million in seed investments into innovative start-ups over a three-year period. It announced a number of such investments ranging from a few hundred thousand euros to over €1 million, but we have heard little from the company since 2017. That all looks set to change.

“The launch of UV T-Growth confirms our commitment to developing innovative services, applications, and technologies based on 5G and all ultra-broadband network infrastructures,” Tursi said. “In line with TIM’s 2021-2023 strategic plan, ‘Beyond Connectivity,’ through TIM Ventures, we will do our part to develop technologies such as Cloud, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity to support the growth of the entire digital ecosystem.”

With 5G picking up pace across Europe, the time is now right for TIM to start supporting the development of the technologies and applications that will underpin many of the business cases.

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