The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has launched Alliance Ventures, a corporate venture capital fund that plans to invest up to $1bn to support open innovation over the next five years.
This confirms reports from last week, suggesting such a move was imminent.
The Alliance said it expected the fund to invest up to $200m in start-ups and open innovation partnerships in its first year.
The aim is to focus on technology entrepreneurs focused on new mobility, including vehicle electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence.
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.
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.”
Alliance Ventures will be left by François Dossa, who has over 20 years of experience in investment banking, plus six years of experience within the Alliance, most recently, as chief executive officer of Nissan Brazil.
While it will draw on the experience of other automotive insiders, it will also hire from outside, for those with specific venture capital experience in innovation areas and geographic markets for investment yet to be defined.
It is expected to be co-located in Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama and Beijing, and Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%) will jointly fund the entity.
The first deal by Alliance Ventures will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a US-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.
Ionic, based in Massachusetts, 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.