Automaker-affiliated venture capital funds seek innovation

A thin film that can be embedded in a car’s windshield to display virtual objects as if they were located further down the road. An automated vehicle inspection system that uses cameras and artificial intelligence to report used car wear. A lightweight material made from natural fibers that can replace plastic.

These are three projects developed by companies that have received investments from the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, the venture capital investment arm of the automaker.

These are also the kind of forward-looking technologies sought by other automaker-affiliated venture capital funds.

Accelerate the adoption of new technologies

A new player is Stellantis Ventures, the launch of which was announced by the automaker on March 16. As Stellantis’ first venture capital fund, it will initially invest 300 million euros ($327 million) in technologies that could be deployed in the automotive and mobility sector.

The company says it aims to accelerate the adoption of new technologies ranging from autonomous driving and advanced materials to FinTech and virtual reality.

“The market is changing, technology is changing, and the way we interact with our customers is changing,” Ned Curic, Stellantis’ chief technology officer, said in a statement. declaration. “Stellantis Ventures will accelerate our transformation by adopting new technologies developed by innovative startups, while fostering their growth potential.”

Modernization of manufacturing

Another venture capital firm, Toyota Ventures, announced its third global “call for innovation” on March 17. This call focuses on finding scalable solutions to modernize manufacturing and advance sustainable production.

Beyond that, like Stellantis Ventures, it suggests interest in a wide range of projects, including 3D simulation, energy efficiency, and worker training and safety. Qualified entrepreneurs are invited to apply by May 31 for the opportunity to receive up to $2 million in venture capital funding.

“With the 2022 Innovation Call, we seek to support talented startup teams that are building smarter, more sustainable factories of the future,” said Jim Adler, founding CEO of Toyota Ventures. declaration. “There are a host of challenges facing the supply chain and manufacturing industry – this is a critical time, and we see this as a perfect opportunity for start-up teams with bold ideas and solutions to accelerate the transformation of Industry 4.0.”

Toyota Ventures has over $500 million in assets under management. Its first call for innovation was held in 2018 and focused on robotic startups, while its second was held in 2020 and sought technologies around smart and connected cities.

Implementation of new systems

And those investments made by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund? UVeye’s automated vehicle inspection systems are now available to Volvo dealers under a program announced March 10 by Volvo Car USA. Saying the new systems will further bolster the automaker’s reputation for product quality and safety, Volvo Car USA hopes a majority of its independent retailers will implement them.

“This is a home run for Volvo Cars and our retailers,” Rick Bryant, vice president of sales operations at Volvo Car USA, said in a statement. declaration. “UVeye’s automated systems will add a new level of credibility to the inspection process for us, for our retailers and for our customers.”

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