Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, the longest running and most successful alliance among automotive companies, took a major step in its strategic plan, announcing on January 9 the launch of the Alliance Venture Capital Fund. The Fund will commit $1 billion over the next five years to identify and support the development of new technologies for potential use by Alliance members. Collaborations with startups and entrepreneurs via open innovation partnerships will be key.
Alliance Ventures will define innovation areas and geographic markets for investment and will recruit venture capital experts to develop the platform which is expected to be co-located in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama and Beijing. Each location has close proximity to technology and research centers of the Alliance member companies, as well as to areas with strong innovation ecosystems. The new entity will be jointly funded by Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%) and a dedicated investment committee will make investment decisions and monitor performance.
The Fund expects to invest up to $200 million in its’ first year, prioritizing Next-Generation Mobility. It will serve as the main interface for start-ups, investors and the venture capital ecosystem. Priority will be given to open innovation in new mobility, including electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence. A strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a US company developing cobalt-free solid-state battery materials, is expected to be the first deal.
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."
Selected startups and partners will gain access to Renault-Nissan- Mitsubishi’s worldwide scope which includes ten brands and representation in every worldwide automotive market.
By the end of its strategic plan, the Alliance will launch 12 pure electric models, utilizing common EV platforms and components, while also bringing to market 40 vehicles with autonomous drive technology and developing robo-vehicle ride-hailing services.