Russia-based airline group S7 has set up a USD 50 million investment fund for early-stage startups.
The company, whose businesses include the S7 airline, aircraft maintenance and a space program, is looking not only for travel and transport startups but also wider e-commerce, predictive analysis and consumer technology.
Dmitry Chuyko, vice president of innovation for the group, says it will also look for startups in areas such as 3D printing and emerging industries such as bio-technology.
He adds that the fund will invest in early-stage companies that are established and have some revenue and the founding team is also an important element.
“The team is quite crucial and how it will build the project from point A to point B, what’s their mindset and how do they perform.”
Chuyko says startups that have found new opportunities, where there is not a lot of competition yet, are also attractive to the fund.
The target for the fund, which has already invested USD 10 million in unnamed startups, is to have backed around 15 businesses within two years.
Chuyko says the investment is about finding and growing new technologies that are complementary to the business as well as gaining revenue from the venture side.
In return, he adds that S7 offers the startups its experience in airline operations and e-commerce technology as well as access to its research and development unit.
“We can help them run pilots to test their products with a real business and it will probably provide them connections to the venture market for their business development.”
Once the investments are up and running, a longer term plan is to think about an accelerator program.
S7 already partners with Skolkovo, the Moscow-based technology park, to run startup competitions for the airline.
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