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Forestay Launches $220M VC Fund Focused on AI

Forestay, a rising venture capital firm based in Switzerland, has made significant strides with $220M raised
July 5, 2024

Forestay, a burgeoning venture capital firm based in Geneva, Switzerland, has marked a significant milestone this week with the closure of its second fund, Forestay Capital II, securing a total of $220 million. Although relatively under the radar until recent years, Forestay gained prominence in the European tech scene by leading funding rounds for enterprise startups, most notably Zurich-based scanning software firm Scandit, which has amassed $273 million in total funding.

Forestay Capital II is poised to deploy its investments across Europe and Israel, focusing on leading growth rounds typically ranging from $10 million to $15 million, targeting companies at the crucial inflection point of their development.

To date, Forestay has supported 13 companies, including successful ventures like K2View, Nexthink, Scandit, and Wasabi, with three achieving unicorn status and two being acquired. Recently, the firm backed Neural Concept, a spinoff from EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne), which raised $27 million in a Series B round to advance AI-driven fast manufacturing design solutions.

Notably, Forestay led the Series A round for Portugal’s predictive maintenance startup Stratio in 2021, injecting $12 million into the company.

Founded as part of B-FLEXION, the private investment vehicle established by the Bertarelli family renowned for building Serono into a global biotech leader, Forestay is helmed by Frederic Wohlwend, former Global Chief Digital Officer of Merck KGaA and Serono.

“In my tenure overseeing digital transformation in large biopharma corporations, I gained comprehensive insights into enterprise dynamics from research to distribution in sizable enterprises,” Wohlwend shared in a conversation with TechCrunch. “This deep understanding led us to focus squarely on enterprise and enterprise AI.”

Despite a competitive landscape, Wohlwend emphasized Forestay’s distinct strategy: “We are hyper-focused on enterprise AI and SaaS, avoiding hardware investments. Our sweet spot lies in Series B investments, capturing companies poised for significant revenue growth.”

Wohlwend also highlighted the rising profile of Southern Europe's tech ecosystem, noting recent developments.

Forestay’s new fund has garnered support from Anaïs Ventures, an investment entity associated with the Firmenich family, renowned for its contributions to the perfume industry.

Julien Firmenich commented, “Forestay’s strategic investment approach and operational expertise, honed over years of industry leadership, align perfectly with our vision.”

Amid Europe’s fragmented consumer markets, particularly across diverse geographies and languages, the region has become a fertile ground for SaaS and enterprise ventures. Forestay’s expansion bolsters the growth-stage funding landscape in Europe, addressing the challenges often faced in securing growth capital compared to the US market.

This development underscores Forestay’s pivotal role in fostering innovation and growth in the European and Israeli tech ecosystems, particularly through its targeted investments in transformative enterprise technologies.

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