Finnish Venture Capital Association organizes an annual master’s thesis competition that rewards the most achieved master’s thesis that focuses on the private equity industry.
In 2021 the winner was Henri Lencioni from the department of industrial engineering and management at Aalto University with his thesis Assessing Venture Capital Investor Performance Drivers – A Practical Application of Machine Learning. According to the research committee of FVCA, the project was ambitious and technologically advanced. The committee also noted the relevance of utilizing machine learning in private equity funding and the overall quality of the work.
The aim of the project was to build a practical machine learning model on existing venture capital investors and their future success with target companies. The project was realized in collaboration with NGP Capital with the help of their database.
The research is focused on four aspects of an investor: syndicates and networks, reputation, aspects of a fund, and target companies. The empirical research with explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) models shows that every one of these four quadrants is related to the performance of the investor. Experienced investors make the most visible exits that impact their reputation. They invest in partnership with other key investors in their network and focus on young companies with experienced founders. These findings are relevant both to the size of the funding and the exit performance. According to this research, out of these four parts, the investor’s reputation is the most important.
Operations manager and head of analytics of FVCA Jonne Kuittinen commented: “Private equity investors utilize increasing amounts of databases and machine learning in their activities. Combining Henry Lencioni’s ambitious research methodology and the know-how and talent of NGP Capital, this top-notch thesis has a solid footing in the everyday reality of the private equity industry.”
You can read Henri’s blog post here.
Two honorary mentions were awarded to particularly successful theses. One was for Nikke Mikkonen from Aalto University with Effect of Fund Size Growth on Subsequent Fund Performance in European Buyout Funds that, according to the jury, analyzed its chosen topic from a new, interesting perspective. The other was for Jaska Mäkkylä with his thesis Operational Consequences of Private Equity Buyouts in Finland. According to the jury, the thesis examined in an in-depth and ambitious manner the target companies.
Last year a total of 14 theses were reviewed. Kuittinen commented: ‘’Once again the research team got the chance to read a number of outstanding theses. It is always delightful to see how the private equity industry can be examined from different scientific viewpoints.’’
Previously the master’s thesis competition has been awarded to The venture capital gender gap from female founder perspective (2020), written by Christa Anttila from Hanken Business School, and New Tax Law Welcomes Foreign Investments in Finnish Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds (2019), written by Isabella Kartila from the University of Helsinki.
The master’s thesis competition is currently open. The deadline for entries is mid-October. For more information, contact operations manager Jonne Kuittinen (email@example.com).
What topic is suitable for the competition?
The topic of the thesis can be anything, as long as it is related to the private equity/venture capital industry. Surprise us!
Who can participate in the competition?
Any student who has completed their master’s thesis and has received a grade for his or her work sometime between 15.10.2021 – 15.10.2022.
What are the judging criteria?
Topic and its impact from the private equity or venture capital industry’s point of view, innovativeness and boldness, as well as analytical and critical take on the topic.
What is the prize?
The winner will be awarded 2 500 euros and the opportunity to present their work to professionals in the PE & VC industry. Please take into account that the winner will be accountable for possible taxes.
Will you publish the grade of the thesis somewhere?
We won’t publish it anywhere, we only want to know the grade you have received for background information.
How can I participate?
Send your finished thesis in PDF format to Jonne (firstname.lastname@example.org) before the end of the competition (no later than 15.10.2022).
FVCA reserves the right to use the content from the winning Master’s Thesis in their communications.