Nokia expands fund of funds

The company’s private equity arm will aim $100m at to back venture funds targeting emerging markets and sectors beyond Nokia’s core business.

Nokia Growth Partners, the private equity and venture capital firm associated with mobile phone maker Nokia, has added $100 million to its fund of funds program. The fund of funds focuses “top-tier” venture capital funds that invest in emerging markets, including India and China.

The new program will target new funds that invest in technologies that fall outside of Nokia’s traditional areas of operation. “It is obvious that today’s mobile handset is about photos, music, TV, video, navigation, buddy finding, even social networking,” said Tero Ojanpera, Nokia’s executive vice president and chief technical officer, said in a statement. “Media sharing and staying connected is what the phenomena is all about. In order to capitalize on these trends, Nokia will need to partner with third parties and adapt and adopt with greater speed and agility than ever before.”

In addition, John Gardner and Paul Asel will join the firm as managing partners. Gardner comes from BlueRun Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund associated with Nokia. At BlueRun, Gardner was a partner and advised start-up and emerging businesses. Asel comes from the International Finance Corporation, where he worked on technology investments in India.

Launched in 2004 and based in Menlo Park, California, Nokia Growth Partners has a $100 million Venture Capital Fund that invests in growth stage technology companies whose business interests are similar to those of Nokia.

Since 2005, the firm has invested in Asian, North American and European companies. Its investments include Bitboys, a Finland-based developer and licenser of graphics hardware solutions for wireless and embedded devices, Sasken Communication Technologies, a Bangalore-based provider of wireless software products and services to semiconductor makers, network equipment companies and wireless handset developers and ViVOtech, a California-based company that develops technology for electronic payment systems.