Tioga Capital, a young Belgium-based blockchain fund, has received an investment commitment from SRIW, a sovereign wealth fund that manages about $4 billion worth of assets.

The fledging venture firm says it has raised $17 million for its “highly oversubscribed” first close, and that it is planning a second, broader close in 2021.

Founded by serial entrepreneur Patrick Van de Mosselaer alongside private equity pro Nicolas Priem and tech/crypto investor Michiel Lescrauwaet, the fund is backed by a number of well-known Belgian family offices (e.g. Van Hool and Vlerick), tech entrepreneurs such as Jurgen Ingels, and now SRIW.

Tioga says its backing by a European sovereign wealth fund is particularly noteworthy, as those tend to be conservative and not prone to venture into new technology investments early on.

“The US has had a head start on that front where the first institutional investors started building exposure to blockchain technology in 2019. Not surprisingly, this trend was kicked off by the Yale endowment, managed by legendary David Swenson”, Lescrauwaet said.

Van de Mosselaer added: “Yale was also one of the first investors in the internet in the nineties. This has led them to build expertise early on, which the endowment capitalized on in future decades: it is the best performing endowment in the US. In Europe, on the other hand, providing growth funding has always been slower. In this context we’re extremely excited that we can bring the first European sovereign wealth fund on board to support the European blockchain & crypto ecosystem.”

Tioga’s investment strategy is fairly simple: it believes in the potential of blockchain and innovative startups in that field, and that there’s a several lack on the funding front in Europe compared to the US where specialised VC firms and blockchain-specific funds are plentiful. It aims to fill that gap.

Beside the aforementioned Jurgen Ingels, Tioga Capital’s investment committee and advisory board counts on the support of Kyle d’Souza (President of the Stanford Blockchain club), Bart Preneel (Professor at KU Leuven, and head of COSIC), Stijn Bijnens (CEO of Cegeka) and Alex Pruden (a former ‘deal partner’ at Andreessen Horowitz).

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