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Ex-BT CEO launches a new VC firm ‘Keen Venture Partners’ to focus on European companies

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Introducing Keen Venture Partners, Europe’s brand new VC. Officially outed today and based in London and Amsterdam, it plans to invest in European companies with “breakaway momentum,” ranging from €5-10 million per company. It is worth noting the the partners in the early growth-capital fund, which has an initial closing of €90 million. They are Ben Verwaayen, former CEO of both BT and Alcatel-Lucent, Alexander Ribbink, former COO of TomTom. and Robert Verwaayen, former principal at Prime Ventures, chalking up a considerable amount of operational chops between them. Robert Verwaayen, General Partner of Keen Venture Partners, said,

This new fund is the first from Keen Venture Partners and we are pleased with the exceptional range of high-profile institutional and private investors, demonstrating a high level of confidence in the new fund.


According to TechCrunch, Keen will have a particular focus on tech startup hubs in the U.K., Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but will also consider investing in North American-based technology companies looking to expand into Europe. As a VC, it claims to develops investment views based on long term fundamentals in specific areas of information and communication technology, back the best teams in European and North American innovation clusters with a particular focus on cross-atlantic market-entry opportunities, and promises to add value to the companies it backs by providing access to an exceptional network of talent and experience. Quite a shiny profile.

Ribbink, General Partner of Keen Venture Partners, added,

As a team we are passionate about supporting scale-up technology companies to become globally leading businesses. With our collective backgrounds, approach to investing and fresh capital we believe we can support the most ambitious entrepreneurs.

Currently, Keen Venture Partners has charted out its target of scale-up tech companies as those with revenue between €1 – 50 million and that have what it describes as significant “break away momentum,” meaning they are looking at companies with a minimum revenue growth of 30 per cent.

To accomplish this goal, Keen will focus on three core thesis areas. These are “distributed intelligence” (next generation networks, virtualisation, IoT platforms, big data, machine learning, smart hardware, and robotics); “the prosumer continuum” (education Technology, platform as a service, productivity and collaboration tools, file management, and analytics), and “convenient transacting” (web and mobile market places, payment services, fin-tech platforms, digital security, and identity solutions).

Keen Venture Partners has also appointed a number of “network partners” who will provide investment advice, and support its portfolio companies. They include Marcus Weldon, CTO of Nokia and President of Bell Labs, and Clare Johnston, CEO and founder of The Up Group, among others.

LPs in Keen include the European Investment Fund (EIF) which benefits from EU support under the COSME program funded by the European Union, Dutch Venture Initiative (DVI), ING Netherlands, and KPN Ventures, in addition to several private investors and entrepreneurs.

Pier Luigi Gilbert, Chief Executive at the European Investment Fund, said,

EIF currently supports over 400 private equity funds across Europe, including first-time teams. Keen’s partners are among the most experienced operators we’ve seen starting a new venture capital fund, which is good news for the venture community. With offices in London and Amsterdam Keen has a wide geographic reach across Europe, and a strategy that can support European SMEs.


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