Jonathan Hale - Investment associate, Mott MacDonald Ventures
Venture capital (VC) investment in start ups is not the exclusive domain of tech giants and traditional funds. Yes, Google Ventures and Intel Capital may seem like the natural target for young innovators looking for strategic capital, but infrastructure companies also have a vested interest in the development of new technology and must be willing to invest to propel this forward. We have long been talking about the potential for digital transformation to bring vast economic, social and environmental benefits to our industry. Now it’s time to put our money where our mouths are.
As investors, we have been thinking about how we can combine the unique value-add of a corporate venture capital (CVC) firm with the forward-thinking, founder-focused drive of traditional VC, thus losing the historic stigma associated with CVC. We don’t subscribe to the idea that the investor should take the lion’s share of the profits. That’s not to say we don’t expect success, but we aim to work with founders in a way that benefits all – us, the start up, the industry and wider society.
Enter Mott MacDonald Ventures, which provides start ups with the seed capital and route-to-market they need to bring innovation to the infrastructure industry. The average construction site today is not so different from those throughout history. Yes, materials and machinery have changed, but we’re still using age-old methods to solve age-old problems. Infrastructure must evolve. We plan to spearhead the use of AI, drones, virtual reality, apps and new tech to bring our industry into the 21st century.
By working with start ups we will combine their innovation with our infrastructure domain knowledge to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, such as urbanisation, climate change, and environment degradation. With the support of our parent company, Mott MacDonald, we provide founders with unparalleled expertise and access to a global network of world-renowned clients. We aim to be the go-to source for infrastructure capital.
To deliver this we need to be strategic and smart. We need to keep our core industry and client challenges front of mind so we invest with relevance. We must have investment acumen, as all VC’s would, but this must be combined with an appreciation of the economic, social and environmental challenges our world faces. Ultimately it is about connecting innovation to outcomes.