Bosch Deepmap Car
Bosch has a stake in AI startup DeepMap, which produces highly accurate maps for autonomous vehicles

Bosch commits €200m to biggest startup fund to date

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Nicola Byrne

The venture capital arm of the global electronics company is increasing its investment in startups by launching a fourth fund worth €200m, taking its total for the four funds to €620.

Robert Bosch Venture Capital is one of Europe’s largest corporate investors, specialising in innovative technology startups, with a portfolio including more than 35 companies active in autonomous driving, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and distributed ledger technologies such as blockchain.

Dr. Volkmar Denner, CEO of RBVC, said: “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”.

Examples of RBVC stakes include three promising AI startups from previous funding rounds:

  • US company DeepMap, produces highly accurate maps for autonomous vehicles
  • British company Graphcore, AI components designed to accelerate machine learning; and
  • Syntiant, advancing machine learning capacities by combining deep learning and semiconductor design

Another recipient of early-stage RBVC investment was Sensoro, which today is the leading supplier of urban IoT solutions in China.

The first Bosch startup fund was €120m, rising to €150m for each of the second and third.

Denner added: “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.”

Open innovation

RBVC examines over 2,000 startups each year, but only around a hundred make it to the company’s shortlist. The shortlist is then whittled down to around six to 10 carefully selected companies that RBVC then invests in.

Startups then get the opportunity to become a supplier, technology partner or customer of Bosch, and Bosch, in return, receives early access to latest technologies to incorporate them into its own innovations.

RBVC managing director Philipp Rose said open innovation is a “win-win for startups and Bosch alike” and it ensures 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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