HomeAutonomous VehiclesBMW and Nissan back $100m mobility fund; US and China ‘own’ innovation in AI

BMW and Nissan back $100m mobility fund; US and China ‘own’ innovation in AI

Carmakers BMW, Hyundai, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault have joined with the likes of Deutsche Bahn, LG Electronics and Shell to pump $100 million into a new early-stage fund for innovation in the mobility sector.

Israel-based venture capital fund Maniv Mobility has secured $100 million with a second venture fund, including a dozen strategic investments from the automotive and transportation industry.

Investors include Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi managed Alliance Ventures, Irish automotive parts company Aptiv, BMW i Ventures, Israeli car importer Carasso Motors, Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures, Hyundai Motor Group, US automotive parts company Lear Corp, LG Electronics, Shell Ventures and French smart-car tech firm Valeo.

The new money will be invested in “leading startups” to develop “data and connectivity, digital and electric mobility platforms, autonomous and autonomous-enabling technologies, [and] novel business models that change how people and goods move”, and which accelerate the ”digitisation of transportation,” said Maniv.

Maniv has invested in 27 companies, including Arbe Robotics, Bipi, Cognata, Hailo Technologies, Intuition Robotics, Nauto, Oryx Vision, Otonomo, Phantom Auto, Revel Transit and Upstream Security.

Michael Granoff, managing partner at Maniv, said: “Maniv evolved organically out of a need to bridge between innovative tech ecosystems and the global automotive industry in order to enable safer, cleaner, more convenient, less expensive and more accessible mobility to all.

Olaf Sakkers, general partner, said: “Our strategic network, unparalleled access and deep involvement in the growth and success of our portfolio companies means the most impactful mobility startups worldwide are choosing to work with Maniv.”

Francois Dossa, global vice president for ventures and open innovation at Alliance Ventures, part of the French-Japanese Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, said: “Israel is a strategic innovation hub for Alliance Ventures. With their expertise and deep understanding of the market, Maniv will help transform the mobility experience for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi customers.”

Young Cho Chi, president and chief innovation officer at Hyundai, commented: “This fund is critical to our business as Maniv has a proven track record of bolstering the startups that solve the most pressing mobility issues. We are confident that Maniv will continue to support the technological solutions that we need to propel our industry forward and usher in an era of highly safe, efficient, and sustainable mobility solutions.”

Jacques Aschenbroich, chief executive at Valeo, said: “Valeo is a worldwide pioneer in autonomous driving and electrification of the powertrain, two major trends in which we maintain our leadership through advanced technological partnerships. Our Business Units are already partnering with a significant number of startups from Maniv portfolio.”

Investor confidence in the burgeoning industrial ‘internet-of-things’ (IIoT) market is up, reckon industry commentators. A slew of enterprise funds and venture capital has been staked on the sector’s growth in recent months, as vendors have got a better grasp of the technology and industrialists have got a better grip of digital transformation at last.

New research from GlobalData says VC funding in artificial intelligence (AI), as a horizontal technology impacting multiple sectors, hit a record high in 2018 with the top 10 investors participating in 150 funding rounds, an increase of two thirds (66.7 per cent) over the 2014–2017 average.

Eight of the global top 10 VC investors in the AI tech space in 2018 were headquartered in the US, according to GlobalData. IDG Capital and Baidu Ventures were the only two non-US companies to feature in the top 10 list

The total proportionate investments by the top 10 VC investors also increased by 120.9 per cent in 2018 compared to the 2014–2017 average. The US and China accounted for more than 60 per cent of the total VC investment volume and around 80 per cent of the total investment value in 2018.

California-based Sequoia Capital registered the highest number of investments and proportionate investment value in 2018. Chinese Internet giant Baidu’s investment unit, Baidu Ventures, registered the highest growth in the number of investments as well as proportionate investment value in 2018 over the 2014–2017 average

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