German carmaker BMW is revving up for a new future as a venture capitalist, and has expanded its i Ventures fund to $500m to invest in start-ups.
The move represents an increase in funding from $100m to $500m, and will see the fund move from New York to a new base in Silicon Valley.
The fund originally focused on electric mobility and mobility services, but now it is expanding its focus to include self-driving cars, digitalisation, cloud services and artificial intelligence.
‘BMW i Ventures keeps us close to trendsetters from all different fields and their innovations’
– KLAUS FRÖHLICH
Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the board of management of BMW AG, responsible for Mini, BMW Motorrad, Rolls-Royce and Aftersales, said the move is designed to enable BMW to react faster to new technological opportunities.
“These days, more and more innovations come from the start-up scene. Venturing allows us to tap into this potential at an early stage. To achieve this, we are now giving BMW i Ventures a much broader footing and will expand our involvement in Europe and Asia, as well as at our new location in Silicon Valley.”
The most recent investment was in Silicon Valley-based company Carbon3D, providing the group with the opportunity to extend its existing competence in the field of additive manufacturing technologies.
The fund has also approached start-ups that include RideCell, ReachNow and ChargePoint.
“The mobility of the future and our industry is being defined by the increasingly rapid pace of technological change,” said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG, responsible for development.
“Anyone who wants to succeed must shape this change and have access to the best ideas. BMW i Ventures keeps us close to trendsetters from all different fields and their innovations. The benefit for our partners is in access to the experience that comes from 100 years of car-building and managing complex topics and processes. Together, we can speed up the pace of change and development,” Fröhlich said.