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Bosch launches €250m startup fund

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Bosch Group is raising its venture capital funding for the current business year with a new €250m fund to invest in startups.

The fund from Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) is the company’s third, looking at a shortlist of around 100 startups out of 2000 applications.

“Our investments in startups promote technological progress in business and society,” said Dr. Stefan Hartung, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “And we ourselves also benefit from this collaboration, since solutions to ever more complex tasks can frequently be found faster, more efficiently, and better in partnership with others.”

RBVC is one of Europe’s largest corporate investors and specializes in innovative technology startups. Its portfolio includes more than 50 companies, mainly active in artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), semiconductors, and quantum computing.

It invests up to 25 million euros in individual young startups, and also provides them with the know-how and contacts the Bosch Group has as a leading supplier of technology and services. As part of its localization strategy, RBVC is continuously expanding its investment activities worldwide: in China, the subsidiary successfully established an investment platform with Boyuan Capital through which other companies can also invest venture capital in funds.

It is opening a new office in the US in Boston to operate alongside the office in Sunnyvale, California. “As a global investor we are part of the startup scene, looking out for the next disruptive innovation that will turn markets on their head,” said Dr Ingo Ramesohl, managing director at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. “This second U.S. office will ensure we are even better at keeping our finger on the pulse of technology startups.”

Each year, experts from RBVC examine over 2,000 startups, but only about a hundred of these make it to the shortlist. RBVC also wants to use the new funding round to find technological answers to changed geopolitical and business-policy circumstances.

“Two years of the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing geopolitical tension have left their mark everywhere, as is shown by the chip shortages and disruptions in global value chains,” said Ramesohl. “That’s why we also want to identify technological trends that can provide relief in such situations.”

Each year, RBVC invests in six to ten carefully selected companies. In addition to capital, it also offers know-how and operational support, linking to Bosch operating units at an early stage. This gives startups the opportunity to become a supplier, customer, or technology partner of Bosch. Bosch, in turn, receives early access to the latest technologies and can incorporate them into its own innovations. Bosch already has several hundred partnerships with startups – in 2021 alone, the number of such activities tripled.

When an investment comes to an end, RBVC may also choose to help a startup go public. In this respect, it is similar to institutional venture-capital funds. One recent success story was the IPO of Xometry, the operator of an AI-assisted marketplace for on demand manufacturing.

Another success was IonQ, the first-ever quantum computing company to be publicly listed. Since 2021, RBVC’s portfolio has also included Variantyx. This startup uses AI-assisted genetic testing in cancer diagnosis, and also works with the Robert Bosch Hospital in this field. To support the shift to electromobility, RBVC has also invested in the startup BASiC Semiconductor, which manufactures silicon carbide power electronics. Finally, Motive, the startup formerly known as Keep Trucking, operates a fleet management system in the U.S. that reduces trucking costs and fuel consumption.

www.rbvc.com

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