Investment Strategy ZEISS Ventures

The investment theme of our fund is “Optics for business in a digital world with a focus on industrial and healthcare applications.”

We primarily invest in technology-driven startups with interlinked software and hardware systems and potential of scalable business models for global B2B markets.

We typically make investments in startups in Series A and B phase with a demonstrated market product fit and are open to make investments with other investors via joint ventures or venture capital rounds. Later-stage deals and M&A are also considered. We also invest into ZEISS internal start-ups (100% equity share).

Typical deal sizes vary between 500k- 5 million Euro. In terms of criteria, we apply a healthy mix of criteria whether a venture is unique, compelling, scalable and relevant for ZEISS.


Current search clusters

Advanced Sensor and Data Solutions

Artificial Intelligence for Image Data

Mobile and Embedded Computing Applications

We manage our ventures according to 10 principles:

1. End-to-end

We can start building a business from as early as the first validated market-product fit. Our goal is to manage and invest across the entire venture life cycle until we have established a resilient business operation.

2. Relevance

We focus on ventures which are relevant for ZEISS. Our relevance criteria are a healthy mix of whether the venture is a great stand-alone business (unique, compelling, and scalable) complemented with a set of potential benefits for the ZEISS Group, such as whether it might generate options for future business development, drive a disruption to a current ZEISS strategic business unit, and/or build/access new capabilities for ZEISS.

3. Value 

We run our ventures with the goal of maximizing their value. We want to join forces with entrepreneurs, co-investors, and other partners with the same goal. Once the venture has become a resilient business, we are open to passing on our venture to the best natural owner, no matter whether the buyer is a ZEISS business or not.

4. Active Ownership 

We assign dedicated owners to each venture, who (i) bring in skills and experience to drive the value of the venture and (ii) provide access to the ZEISS world, including the supporting functions and the international network of assets and people.

5. Conviction 

We strive to be a highly determined and informed investor and look for the non-obvious secrets underlying the investment thesis of each venture. We do not engage in “spray-and-pray” statistical investing.

6. Unbiased

Success for us is generally independent of whether the idea was invented at ZEISS or not. We want to acquire the best ideas and the best people for ZEISS regardless of where they come from.

7. Purpose

While ZEISS Ventures seeks to be commercially effective, we will not compromise our brand and the ZEISS culture of thinking long-term for short-term financial motivations alone.

8. Team

We act as a team. Our best ventures have been global team efforts in which the joint goal of the team is put first and individual interests come second. We commit to our entrepreneurs and build long-term relationships based on open and candid dialogue and mutual trust.

9. Speed 

We strive to make decisions based on judgement in the face of great uncertainty and incomplete facts, recognizing that new businesses need to move fast to succeed.

10. Consistent ZEISS approach 

ZEISS Ventures consistently follows the annual strategy process of the ZEISS Group. Investments are made by adhering to a set of search clusters and investment hypotheses. Two Executive Board members are members of the Venture Board, supported by the ZEISS Ventures Management team that actively enables the internal and external ventures organized as a portfolio of startup business units in order to realize their mission.