Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Creates Billion-Dollar VC Fund

Renault-Nissan Starts Up Billion-Dollar Venture Fund for Car Technology

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi wants to spend up to $1 billion on start-ups over next 5 years

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi said it sold more than 10 million vehicles in 2017 and forecasts combined revenues of $240bn by the end of 2022.

As a strategic investor, the new fund will look to bring technologies developed by its portfolio companies in-house for use across the three-brand alliance that comprises the group.

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".

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The first offices for the new fund will be in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama and Beijing - which align with the member companies that are committing capital to the alliance.

It has already made its first deal, in USA battery technology company Ionic Materials. The equity acquisition coincides with the execution of a joint-development agreement with the Alliance for the goal of R&D cooperation. According to the release, Ionic is the developer of a pioneering solid polymer electrolyte that enables improved performance and cost effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and multiple other applications.

The fund is also a key part of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi's Alliance 2022, which aims to double the "annualised synergies" - or how much the companies can save by working together - to more than €10bn (£8.9bn) by the end of 2022. Technologies discovered by each partner will be shared through the alliance.

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Technology start-ups are an increasingly appealing investment for global corporates and venture capitalist in the Middle East and globally. Guided by this same collaborative spirit, the alliance will focus on putting their resources into entrepreneurs focused on new mobility, including autonomous automotive systems, connectivity, and of course artificial intelligence. Both BMW iVentures and GM Ventures have longer histories with venture capital (and BMW expanded its iVentures commitment to over $500 million for the next ten years), but their funds are smaller. Some of the areas of interest for Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi VC will include the development of electric cars, autonomous drive, and robot taxis. The first deal will be a strategic investment in the company Ionic Materials; an organization based in the state of MA who is the developer of a pioneering solid polymer electrolyte that enables improved performance and cost-effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and multiple other applications.

It will be 40 percent financed by Renault SA, 40% by Nissan Motor Co Ltd and 20% by Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

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