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23 (118) 2016
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Innovation

Polish venture capital - driving innovation to market

by Arkadiusz Kuich, CEO, Erne Ventures S.A.
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Erne Ventures is a company that has been listed on NewConnect since 2008 and operates as a venture capital fund concentrating on short- or medium-term investments in products and services with high  development potential on the global market.

Last year, the company’s share price increased over five-fold, and total turnover stands for 29.1 million PLN in past year, which was the ninth best result on the whole NewConnect stock exchange, representing almost 500 listed companies. It was also a very good year for the portfolio companies of Erne Ventures: share price of Arrinera trebled while the valuation of The Farm 51 Group shares doubled.

Investment projects that Erne Ventures searches for tend to be in the seed or start-up phase. Erne Ventures advises its companies on a strategy level but intervenes in their current management only in exceptional situations. The preferred investment exits are selling shares to professional investors or listing the portfolio company on the stock exchange. Erne Ventures doesn’t exclude a continued presence in the company as a minority shareholder after acquiring a strategic investor for the company. The main area of interest of the investment fund are entities with a high return on investment, although without any preferred industry sector. Erne Ventures searches also for different investment projects connected with commercialisation of patents and product or process innovation.

Erne Ventures flagship investment is the famous Arrinera, which as a NewConnect-listed group (including the UK company Arrinera Racing Ltd) designs and builds the first Polish racing car – the Arrinera Hussarya GT and supercar – the Arrinera Hussarya. This January, during the Autosport International Racing Car Show in Birmingham, the Arrinera Hussarya GT racing car had its worldwide premiere.

Erne Ventures has also noticed the big potential of development in the field of video and mobile games, and currently owns shares in three entities operating in this market: The Farm 51 Group, QubicGames and Huckleberry Studio.

The Farm 51 Group is listed on NewConnect and develops video games for PCs and stationary consoles (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3). It currently focuses on its three key projects: Get Even, World War 3 and Chernobyl VR Project. The company works also on development of cutting-edge Reality 51 technology that uses elements of virtual reality outside the games market.

Huckleberry Studio conducts advanced development on producing a multiplayer game in kind of MMORPG called Edengrad, the premiere of which is scheduled this year.  The game was presented to public in October 2015 at the Poznań Game Arena Fair.

Another portfolio company of Erne Ventures in the games sector - QubicGame - operates in the mobile games branch. The newest product of this studio, Geki Yaba Runner game, had its world premiere in February 2016, and is already successful. QubicGames has begun work on the following titles –  Robonauts and Shadow. The company created the cross-platform engine C-Way, the wide commercialisation of which is planned for this year. The work was carried out between 2012 and 2014 in collaboration with Warsaw University of Technology and supported by NCB+R, the national centre for research and development

Huckleberry Studio and QubicGames both plan initial public offerings on NewConnect this year.

Erne Ventures owns also shares in companies NanoStal and NanoStal-Procesy. NanoStal commercialises and implements the results and products collected from its research on manufacturing steel of nanocrystalline structure, using phase transition. The technology offered by the company offers the possibility of producing lighter, stronger and cheaper steel than that which is accessible on the global market today. NanoStal-Procesy develops innovative heat treating of constructional and tool steel with the highest mechanical properties, and plans to implement these technologies into industrial production.

Erne Ventures’ investment portfolio also contains Copernicus Yachts, a company that operates in the luxury steel yacht market. The flagship boat model of the producer will be a 39ft-long motorsailer. Copernicus Yachts plans to include in its range shorter yachts.

Erne Ventures operates in the British market through its fully owned company Erne VC Ltd which advises Polish businesses about of the possibility of acquiring funding in Great Britain.

Erne Ventures intends to continue to pursue its development strategy based mainly on the diversification of the investment portfolio, working out the average rate of return on invested capital over 25%, and gradually increasing the company’s value. To this end, the fund actively seeks new investment projects that meet its investment criteria and have a possible high return on investment. The development strategy adopted by the company, and its effective implementation, will allow for constant improvement of financial performance, which in turn will translate to increase in value of Erne Ventures.

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