BMW AG plans to boost its investments in start-ups, as competition intensifies with new rivals including Tesla Motors Inc. over technologies that make cars smarter and more energy efficient.
The i Ventures division will be moving its headquarters from NY to Silicon Valley and it will also be allowed to operate with more autonomy.
Its HQ is being relocated from NY to Silicon Valley and the organisation is being given a higher level of autonomy so that it can move swiftly on startups that it wants to invest in or partner with.
“These days, more and more innovations come from the start-up scene”, said Peter Schwarzenbauer, the BMW executive who oversees vehicle sharing. In addition to money, it will offer technical expertise to the start-ups it supports. “To be successful one must shape this change and gain access to the best ideas”. It will have two managing partners – Ulrich Quay and Uwe Higgen, who will report to BMW Group Steering Board. This will give BMW i Ventures considerable autonomy and allow it to make investment decisions quickly, as necessitated by the industry. BMW i Ventures has also broadened its scope when it comes to searching for startups and the division will begin to look in Europe and Asia for new companies to acquire.
BMW i Ventures was established in NY in 2011 with an initial venture capital of $100m
The division has held a minority stake in San Francisco-based technology start-up RideCellsince 2014, . This time, however, it seems that BMW is focusing on technology that focuses around what we know as future tech, such as autonomous driving.
BMW Group board of management member Peter Schwarzenbauer explained why the company has made a decision to invest heavily in its i Ventures division, saying: “These days, more and more innovations come from the startup scene”.
Another example is Chargepoint, headquartered in Campbell, California, which is another of BMW i Ventures’ portfolio companies. Additionally, BMW has invested in Chargepoint, helping to expand its own ChargeNow service that provides public charging stations. In a joint project with BMW, Chargepoint has installed 95 rapid charging stations on the East and West coast of the US.
BMW i Ventures’ most recent investment, in Silicon Valley-based company Carbon3D, already reflects the venture capital unit’s expanded focus.