Over the last few months, Manufacturing Disruption has published a series of articles describing opportunities created in the additive manufacturing / 3D printing industry and how VC firms can capitalize on these opportunities. The genesis of the research began with an independent project I began at London Business School during my Executive MBA and the more I got into the topic, the more promise it showed.
My research has shown four distinct strategies for value creation and capture arising from additive manufacturing technology, with corresponding opportunities across the venture capital industry, from small seed funds to corporate VC funds, all the way up to major top-tier firms. Each strategy is summarized below and includes links to in-depth articles:
Stratasys to invest in the future; Bolt raises new fund, expands and partners
Up and down news from the advanced manufacturing funding realm this week: Stratasys came out with a press release regarding its preliminary FY 2014 financial results indicating an impairment of $100-110 million on MakerBot while making plans for future investment across a number of areas. Meanwhile, Bolt – an early-stage venture capital firm specializing in startups at the hardware/software interface – announced a new $25 million fund (Fund II) and expansion to a second facility in San Francisco. As if that wasn’t enough, a few days later, Bolt and well-known seed accelerator Y Combinator jointly announced a partnership that will see Bolt’s partners and engineering staff added to Y Combinator’s already impressive list of mentors, while offering access to Bolt’s workshop facility to YC hardware startups.
Venture Capital Strategies for Additive Manufacturing (Part 4)
The long term success of any manufacturing technique is greatly coupled to users’ access and ability to make the most of the technique’s inherent advantages. Additive manufacturing / 3D printing is no different. So while the previous investment strategies outlined on Manufacturing Disruption (The (Printed) Full Stack, Reinventing the Hardware Startup and Innovating Internally – Corporate Venture Capital) focused on leveraging technological advantages, the final strategy is all about expanding access to additive manufacturing and helping users unleash its power. This strategy is approachable to many would-be entrepreneurs and is particularly attractive from the venture capitalist’s perspective as it is flexible, scalable and conforms to existing investment strategies already employed by many prominent VCs.