Sienna Venture Capital: Bringing Israel to Luxembourg
Isabelle Amiel, Head of Sienna Venture Capital, describes how Sienna backs entrepreneurs whose ambition is to have a positive impact on the world, society, and the environment. With Luxembourg’s financial foundations, Sienna sees the Duchy as having the potential to grow as a “tech hub” to rival Silicon Valley and Israel.
Can you describe Sienna Venture Capital in a few words?
Sienna Venture Capital is part of Sienna Investment Management, which is a multi-expertise, pan-European asset manager with about €30 billion in assets under management across listed and private assets. I began my career at Crédit Suisse, where I advised wealthy clients on managing their unlisted company portfolios and later helped to set up La Maison, an investment club. At the level of venture capital, we don't have much money to invest. However, we are here to build venture strategies based on our expertise arising from ten years of experience exclusively in a great ecosystem which is the Israeli technical system.
"The idea is to bring Europe to Israel and Israel to Europe"
Can you describe the strategies that Sienna has adopted?
We've been investing in the Israeli start-up ecosystem for the past decade and have become one of the biggest or the biggest European investors in a technical system which is the second tech hub in the world (if you put aside China) after the US. Our strategy is to define ourselves as “tech purpose” investors. We only want to back entrepreneur-founders who have a goal and a positive impact on the world, society, and the environment. While we invest in fields where Israel has an edge including cyber security and mobility, we also invest in digital health, food, and agricultural technology. For example, Israel is a very dry country and we have supported one of the best companies providing water through desalination.
Can Luxembourg develop the tech start-up ethos you have experienced in Israel?
Israel’s success as a home for tech start-ups is largely based on its lack of a domestic market. Companies are built from day one to seek opportunities abroad. Their first market is the USA and Sienna’s goal is to bring these companies and help them scale up in Europe which is a market that Israel hasn’t yet addressed. The idea is to bring Europe to Israel and Israel to Europe. In this way, Luxembourg could serve as the European hub. There is a similarity with Luxembourg being small and not having a large domestic market. The hub ecosystem could be nurtured by Europe’s great universities and Europe could help supplement the shortage of engineers and coders that Israel is experiencing.