The world's largest automotive alliance, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, has launched Alliance Ventures, a new corporate venture capital fund that plans to invest up to $1 billion to support open innovation over the next five years.
Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%) will jointly fund the entity, which will have a dedicated investment committee to make investment decisions and monitor their performance.
In its first year, the fund expects to invest up to $200 million in start-ups and open innovation partnerships with technology entrepreneurs focused on new mobility, including vehicle electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence.
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."
Alliance Ventures will invest in start-ups to bring new technologies and businesses to the Alliance while ensuring a fair financial return. The fund will make strategic investments at all start-up stages and will incubate both new automotive entrepreneurs and forge new partnerships.
"This investment initiative is designed to attract the world's most promising automotive technology start-ups to the Alliance," said Ghosn.
The first deal by Alliance Ventures will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a promising Massachusetts-based company which is developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials.
Current batteries are manufactured with an expensive and flammable liquid electrolyte and use costly active materials. By replacing the liquid system with Ionic Materials’ solid plastic polymer material, solid-state batteries that are safe, cheaper and operational at room temperature become possible for the first time.
By making such investments, Alliance Ventures will help identify and support the development of new technologies for potential use by Alliance members.
The Alliance plans to launch 12 pure electric models by the end of the plan at the close of 2022, utilizing common EV platforms and components, while also bringing to market 40 vehicles with autonomous drive technology and developing robo-vehicle ride-hailing services.
Such initiatives are aligned with the objectives of Alliance 2022, which aims to strengthen cooperation and to double the annualized synergies generated by Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors to more than €10 billion by the end of 2022.
Alliance Ventures will be led by François Dossa, who has over 20 years of experience in investment banking, plus six years of experience within the Alliance, most recently, as CEO of Nissan Brazil.
Plans are for Alliance Ventures 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.
The $200 million initial venture capital investment comes in addition to more than €8.5 billion in total annual research and development investments by the Alliance members.
By Sunny Lewis
Environment News Service (ENS)