SBT Venture Fund II to pump up to $200 million into blockchain, AI, IoT projects
Sberbank is one of the founders of the fund, which will provide financing to projects related to new technologies.
SBT Venture Fund II has been set up, with Sberbank Rossii PAO(MCX:SBER) being among the founders, according to an announcement released on October 11, 2017. The managing partner of the new fund is FortRoss Ventures.
The main task of SBT Venture Fund II is to invest in technology companies. It aims to help such companies in the development of their services in the Russian market, as well as in finding the right experts. The fund will focus its investments on projects related to artificial intelligence, Internet of things, cloud technologies, marketplaces, financial technologies, as well as blockchain.
The current plans envisage SBT Venture Fund II to support 15-20 companies over the next four years. The maximum size of the fund will be $200 million – at present, this amount is $75 million.
The fund will pump up to $5-10 million in each project.
Sberbank is known for its fondness of new technologies. Early this year, the bank announced that it will deploy robot lawyer, capable of replacing 3,000 employees in its compliance department. And this is not the end of bad news for Sberbank’s human staff. In June this year, Herman Gref – CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank, has unveiled further plans for workforce reduction. The number of employees in back office roles at the bank will be reduced 12 times by 2021, according to Mr Gref. Currently, the bank has 12,000 back office employees, with the number to be reduced to 5,000 by 2018 and to 1,000 by 2021.
Sberbank Leasing, a part of the Sberbank group of companies, announced in May that it was launching a leasing program for Promobot (v2 and v3) – an autonomous robot that may replace human staff in various roles, including customer support, administration and consultation. The move is expected to boost the adoption of the solution, as the leasing makes it more affordable.
Blockchain, another of the foci of the new venture fund, retains the support of businesses and authorities in Russia. Whereas the Central Bank of Russia has been very critical of cryptocurrencies, it said it was exploring the potential applications of technologies like blockchain.