Its purpose is to invest in startups, university projects and initiatives in partnership with other companies.
CMPC Companies – linked to the Matte family – has decided to give a financial boost to the innovation projects it’s been fostering in recent years. To this end, the company created an unprecedented fund of USD 100 million of its own capital with the aim of investing in early stage startups or companies as well as initiatives with academia (universities) and innovation centers in Chile and abroad. “Our appetite to be a company that is increasingly at the forefront of innovation has been growing for some time now. Today we are sharing our journey of the past five years, announcing it to the world with the launch of a USD 100 million innovation fund. In perspective, this is exceedingly significant, not just on a Chilean scale, but in Latin America overall,” said CMPC Innovation Manager Felipe Alcalde.
The executive detailed the three main focus areas of the fund — officially launched as of December 4 — whose resources are to be disbursed within five to seven years. In addition to investing directly in startups, the firm wishes to have a stake in applied research and development together with academia and innovation centers. “We have concrete examples of the work we’ve been doing, investing in projects with universities in Finland and Chile. Along with the University of Concepción, we’ve been working with applied science to increase the efficiency of our industrial operations,” said Alcalde.
Another component consists of the “collaborations or partnerships around innovation projects with common objectives that we can create with other companies of varying sizes, from small to quite large.” He went on to comment on single-use plastics substitution. This year CMPC has supported the financing round of the English startup Pulpex for the manufacture of paper bottles. Alcalde added that other areas where the company wants to invest through this fund include cellulose-based textile fibers and new uses of wood for construction, pointing out that they’ve already invested in Chile in a company called Strong by Form. CMPC has a committee for making investment decisions made up of paper mill board members and CEO Francisco Ruiz-Tagle as well as executives such as Felipe Alcalde himself. “If we are successful over these next seven years, scaling this up to industrial factory level will likely require much more significant amounts,” suggested Alcalde regarding the future of the innovation investments currently being implemented.