Tech veteran Pearse Coyle doesn’t beat about the bush when asked why he is the man to lead a new “deep tech” fund with up to €100 million to invest in start-ups.

“I’ve got the scars and the experience, and there are f*** all other people willing to do this,” he says.

That may not be altogether correct given that there are a handful of funds eyeing deep-tech companies around the world. But most investors are certainly reluctant to take a punt on start-ups in the space.

That’s not too surprising, as deep-tech start-ups often need to conduct lots of research and get plenty of financing before they make it to market, if they ever do.

Typically encompassing technologies derived from scientific discoveries or engineering innovation, deep-tech solutions are based on research-based intellectual property (IP) and encompass technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, life sciences and quantum computing.

One key advantage for those backing deep-tech start-ups is that as their solutions are usually built using their own IP, it isn’t easy for rivals to copy what they do. If companies do make it, they have first-mover advantage.

Nevertheless, even this carrot isn’t enough for most potential backers who can get overwhelmed by the degree of technical detail involved.

“A lot of the time investors won’t back something unless they understand it well and that is a big problem for deep-tech founders. Someone might come up with an amazing widget in some niche that is a global opportunity but they get caught trying to explain it to some generalist who has no idea if they are bullshitting or not,” says Coyle.

On the flip side, he adds that those running early-stage companies can be scarred by their dealings with investors.

“If you’re used to being in the lab then engaging with investors is a wake-up call. VCs [venture-capital investors] are necessarily tough and founders can find them shockingly rude,” says Coyle

Workarounds

His new Deeptech Seed Fund, which recently closed its first deal, looks as though it may have found a number of workarounds that will see early-stage start-ups get capital more easily.

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“Deeptech to me is pretty simply a venture that is sinking or swimming based on their IP and which usually has a founder with a significant head start in the area they are in because of the research they have done, “ says Coyle.



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