The automotive alliance of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi today announced the launch of 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.
The new entity will act as the main interface for startups, investors, and the venture capital ecosystem, and will prioritize open innovation in new mobility, including electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity, and artificial intelligence. In the first year, according to officials, the fund expects to invest up to $200 million in start-ups and open innovation partnerships with technology entrepreneurs.
With further annual investments, Alliance Ventures is set to become the largest corporate venture capital fund in the automotive industry over the period of Alliance 2022, the strategic midterm plan launched last year by Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.
“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,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. “This new fund reflects the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial mindset at the heart of the Alliance.”
The first deal by Alliance Ventures will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a promising U.S.-based company which is developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials. The equity acquisition coincides with the execution of a joint-development agreement with the Alliance for the purpose of R&D cooperation. Based in Massachusetts, 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 $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.
Alliance Ventures will be led by François Dossa, who has more than 20 years of experience in investment banking, plus six years of experience within the Alliance, most recently as CEO of Nissan Brazil. The Alliance Ventures team will also draw on the expertise and business opportunities identified by a cross-functional team of experts from Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.
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.
“This investment initiative is designed to attract the world’s most promising automotive-technology start-ups to the Alliance,” said Carlos Ghosn.
As part of the Alliance 2022 strategic plan, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is forecasting that the combined revenues of its member companies will reach $240 billion and that annual unit sales will exceed 14 million by the end of 2022.