Investments in startups are on the rise. In 2017, institutional investors and companies invested 147 billion euros in these enterprises – nearly three times as much as in 2012.
Global technology major Bosch is increasing its investment in external startups and has provided Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC) with 200 million euro (Rs1,619 crore) for a fourth fund.
According to Dr Volkmar Denner, CEO, Robert Bosch GmbH, “Shaping the future also means recognising good ideas early on and helping them achieve a breakthrough. As a leading IoT company, we want to drive forward select technologies in areas of future relevance, such as artificial intelligence."
At present, RBVC says it has a stake in three of the most promising artificial intelligence (AI) startups worldwide: DeepMap, Graphcore, and Syntiant. “We not only invest in startups, we also collaborate with them on open innovation projects. This is one way in which we boost our innovative strength,” said Dr Denner.
Open innovation is a concept that brings together customers, researchers, suppliers, and partners and integrates them into a company’s innovation activities. RBVC, one of Europe’s largest corporate investors, specialises in innovative technology startups, and its portfolio includes more than 35 companies active in autonomous driving, AI, IoT, and even distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain.
Early stage support
The company says each year experts from RBVC examine over 2,000 startups, with only around a hundred of these getting shortlisted, “We invest in six to 10 carefully selected companies each year. In addition to capital, we also offer know-how and operational support. We also connect startups with Bosch operating units,” said, RBVC managing director Philipp Rose.
Startups get the opportunity to become a supplier, technology partner, or even customer of Bosch, and in turn, the German major receives early access to the latest technologies and can incorporate them into its own innovations. “Open innovation is a win-win for startups and Bosch alike,” Rose added. “It also lets us ensure that the startup’s expertise stays in the startup.” Bosch currently collaborates with more than one hundred companies on open innovation projects.
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