2015: Perhaps the worst—but hopes for recovery are not groundless

RMG Partners, a Russian investment company, is announcing its new analytical report on the status and trends of Russia’s venture market in 2015. 

This analytical product is aimed at boosting the attractiveness and improving the transparency of Russia’s innovation sectors for both domestic and international investors, as well as at enhancing interaction between investors and innovative companies that look for funding.

Here are the key takeouts from the report:

4Q 2015 saw a disconcerting 50+% y-o-y decline in the number of deals, with the downward trend unchallenged for six straight quarters. Investment values were halved over the course of the year.

The lion’s share of investment in 2015 came to teams that develop Internet for B2C focused projects. On top of those, projects in e-commerce, followed by technologies for marketing and advertising, remained the second and third most attractive venture areas for investors, respectively. Biotech and industrial tech developments kept raising some red flags for the investor community.

Of all investor categories, private funds played first fiddle—although their contribution was not so weighty as before. The shrinking of the once deep investor pockets told primarily on seed-stage projects.

Following companies’ loss of value even in the dollar terms, many investors elected to stash away their plans for exits until better times. Nonetheless, some signs materialized over the year of a new trend for an increase in investor exits inside Russia.

Russia’s leading government-initiated start-up acceleration programs opened much broader doors for industrial partners from among big businesses to come and lend a hand. There’s a chance for a more perceptible government move towards the institutionalization of the globally recognized proof of concept model in Russian universities.

At the seed and start-up stages, angel investors’ contribution even surpassed that in 2014; however, their overall role is still short of expectations.

“We can’t but feel that we said bye to perhaps the worst year in the short but effervescent history of Russia’s modern VC market. However, the regulators have not turned their back on the market even in the face of the current crisis. Many Russian start-up projects are plainly undervalued following the devaluation of the ruble, and project teams can’t but realize that technologies focused exclusively on the domestic market are just hopeless; and all this provides a strong enough foothold for the VC market to regain momentum,” said Arseniy Dabbakh, Managing Partner at RMG Partners, in a comment on the report.

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