After weeks of increasingly confident media speculation, Google ($GOOG) has confirmed it is setting up an outpost of its venture capital wing in Europe. And with a brief to follow a similar strategy to the U.S. team that invested in Flatiron Health, DNAnexus and other biotech IT startups, the $100 million fund is a new source of capital for European life science innovators.
Google has hired four general partners to run the European unit out of offices in London, with a member of the U.S. division temporarily relocating to the new digs to link the transatlantic teams. The London offices are close to the city's tech startup hub, but the focus of the venture unit extends far beyond England and companies hoping to become the next Google or Facebook ($FB). Startups from across Europe and in multiple industries are potential targets for the $100 million fund.
"If you look at the U.S., we invest at all stages and in all sectors. It's not about how many investments we do, but the impact those companies have," Google Ventures chief Bill Maris told the Financial Times. In a blog post to officially announce the European unit, Maris singled out three companies as examples of the U.S. division's investment strategy. Cancer data analysis firm Flatiron Health and autism test developer SynapDx were two of the featured investments.
As TechCrunch notes, the $100 million fund is significantly smaller than European investment pools set up by Index Ventures, Accel Partners or Balderton, but does benefit from its ties to Google. The search giant is promising to provide its portfolio with more than just cash and in the longer term is a potential buyer of the startups in which its venture unit invests.