TOKYO — SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund has invested in a Japanese company for the first time, Nikkei has learned, as the tech investor accelerates a push for geographic diversity in its portfolio.
The Vision Fund led a 6.8 billion yen ($59.7 million) investment into Aculys Pharma, a biotech startup co-founded in January by Kazunari Tsunaba, the former president of the Japanese arm of Novartis.
Aculys, based in Kanazawa Prefecture, aims to bring sleep disorder treatments approved for sale in the U.S. and Europe to the Japanese market. The latest investment is expected to fund clinical trials and distribution, as well as data analysis on potential customers using artificial intelligence.
The original SoftBank Vision Fund, launched with backing from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, largely invested in high-value targets working with AI in the U.S. and China. It oversees $98.6 billion in assets.
Vision Fund 2 is supported entirely by Japan’s SoftBank Group and focuses on smaller targets across a wider geographic area to mitigate risks. Its investments averaged around $220 million as of the end of June, about 20% the size of those by Vision Fund 1. The fund is making quick inroads into Europe, the Middle East and Asian markets beyond China, and could ramp up investments in Japan.