Newtown Partners, a South African venture capital firm and logistics firm Imperial, have launched a corporate venture capital (CVC) fund to invest startups in the logistics industry, with an initial investment of $20 million.
Newtown Partners, founded in 2014 on the set of Dragon’s Den by Vinny Lingham and Llew Claasen, with investments in Bloomable, Civic, SweepSouth, and defunct Wala, will manage the fund focused on high-growth startups in the supply chain and logistics sector.
As an early-stage venture capital firm, Newtown Partners will support Imperial’s strategic investment in the key areas set to disrupt its business in the next five to 10 years.
“This programme will contribute to the long-term success of the organisation by identifying and leveraging startups deploying emerging technologies and business models in key geographical and logistics service areas,” says Vinny Lingham, co-founder and General Partner of Newtown Partners.
As the fund manager, Newtown Partners has adopted a hands-on approach that will see it working closely with portfolio startup companies that the fund invests in. Additionally, the innovation fund is operationally separate from Imperial, ensuring portfolio startups are not hamstrung by corporate red tape, while still being able to unlock the synergistic benefits of having Imperial as an investor and market access provider. As is typical in corporate venture capital, the fund has the objective of generating attractive financial returns together with a strategic underpinning relevant to the core business of Imperial.
Imperial sees this as a move to position it ahead of future competitors, enabling a strategic response to emerging technologies and business models. To maintain its position as a major industry player, Imperial required an entrepreneurial partner that not only specialises in investing in early-stage startups, but one that also has strong emerging market knowledge, access to the Silicon Valley network and thought leadership, and a deep understanding of what these startup businesses require to succeed.
“By adopting a pragmatic approach to disruptive innovation, we are well-positioned to identify how Imperial’s business will change over the next few years, and enable them to not just weather the inevitable disruption to their industry, but to leverage this change for competitive advantage,” notes Llew Claasen, co-founder and Managing Partner of Newtown Partners.
“We are excited to have been chosen as their partner, and see significant potential for this fund, its startups, and Imperial as we leverage our global startup experience and network to augment the considerable industry knowledge inside Imperial,” expands Claasen.
“With this fund, we are embracing the disruption taking place in the market by safe-guarding the organisation against future risk. It is about leveraging innovation so that we – alongside our clients – can not only survive but thrive well into the future,” says Akoojee.