The Renault Nissan Mitsubishi alliance has announced the inception of a venture capital fund that will invest in start-ups and companies with a focus on new technologies and innovations in the field of mobility, electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence. In this connection they have committed to investing US $ 200 million in the first year with the fund growing to US $ 1 billion over five years. The first investment will be in Ionic materials, a US-based company developing cobalt-free solid-state battery materials.
The new arm, called Alliance Ventures, is expected to become the largest corporate venture capital fund over the period to 2022, which covers the current mid-term plan timeline of the automotive alliance.
Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said: “Our open innovation approach will allow us to invest and collaborate with start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs, who will benefit from the global scale of the Alliance. This new fund reflects the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial mind-set at the heart of the Alliance.”
The fund is to serve as a incubator of new technologies, while the company states that it will still look at projects by virtue of their viability and return on investment. The arrangement should help innovators to commercialise relevant technologies, while offering immediate access to an automotive production system that currently tops the 10 million mark.
While the size of the fund is substantial, the alliance claims that it already spends close to 8.5 billion Euro in total R&D annually. Alliance Ventures will be headed by François Dossa, who currently heads Nissan Brazil. In addition to his six years with the group, he has a background of investment banking, which should be relevant. Team members will be drawn from across the alliance, while the company itself is expected to be co-located in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama and Beijing, close to the technology and research centers of the Alliance member companies, as well as to areas with strong innovation ecosystems.