SOSV raises $277m to invest in deep-tech start-ups

12 Dec 2019

A robotic manufacturing arm. Image: © xiaoliangge/

With the latest round of funding, SOSV plans to invest in approximately 150 new start-ups per year, particularly in the area of deep tech.

On Wednesday (11 December), venture capital and investment management firm SOSV announced that it has raised $277m for its new SOSV IV fund. The firm’s last fund, SOSV III, raised $150m.

The firm, which is known for investing in deep tech, is often ranked as one of the most active investors in start-ups in hardware and life sciences. It is backed by university endowments, foundations, and limited partners including Davy Group, HP Tech Ventures and Honda Motors, among others.

With its latest fund, the firm plans to invest in approximately 150 new start-ups per year, across its accelerator programmes Hax, IndieBio, RebelBio, Chinaccelerator, MOX, Food-X and DLab. The majority of the fund will be deployed in the later rounds of the best performers in these accelerators.

Sean O’Sullivan, SOSV managing partner, said: “This year, nearly $1bn went into SOSV-backed companies from VCs and corporate investors.

“On top of the $65m SOSV invests directly into our start-ups every year, SOSV’s deep-tech start-ups are getting huge funding leverage from our syndicate of VCs, angels and corporates.”

SOSV’s portfolio

The latest fund will allow the firm to continue its strategy to invest an initial $100,000 to $250,000 in each start-up through its accelerator programmes, while providing $200,000 to $2m in follow-on funding in subsequent rounds for start-ups that go through its programmes.

The firm’s portfolio currently includes fast-growing robotics, IoT and medtech start-ups, such as Avidbots, Simbe Robotics, Particle, Makeblock and Getaround. SOSV was the lead investor in Jump Bikes, which was recently acquired by Uber.

SOSV is also interested in clean food and cellular agriculture start-ups, having invested in Memphis Meats, which develops lab-grown proteins; NotCo, which has developed plant-based milk and mayonnaise; animal-free collagen start-up Geltor; and plant-based meat start-up, Abbot’s Butcher, among others.

The venture capital firm has a history of investing in life sciences and therapeutics. Some of the biotech businesses SOSV has invested in include regenerative medicine company Prellis, and cancer therapeutics company Synthex.

Its portfolio also includes a number of blockchain start-ups, including cryptocurrency trading platform BitMex.

Infrastructure and labs

The firm also invests more than $10m in infrastructure annually. This includes the expansion and running of wet labs, electronic labs, mechanical facilities and offering on-site support teams made up of experts, engineers and PhDs.

O’Sullivan added: “In the early 2000s, investors could not fund hardware and life sciences start-ups in the same incremental and iterative way as software. In 2020 and beyond, the majority of deep-tech start-ups can now follow a lean model.

“Our hands-on approach has helped hundreds of start-ups overcome the challenges of going from workshop or lab to the market.”

The programmes run by the VC firm employ more than 100 staff across nine locations: San Francisco, New York, Cork, London, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Xi’an, Taipei and Tokyo.

Disclosure: SOSV is an investor in Silicon Republic

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic