BMW i8

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BMW Group has announced that it plans to spend up to
€500 million (£427 million) on new car technologies over the next
10 years through its i Ventures division.

The money will be used to back startups working on areas such as
autonomous driving and mapping that can help BMW to make its cars
more intelligent and efficient.

The announcement, made on BMW Group’s website on Monday, comes
as relatively new automotive company Tesla continues to gain traction in the

Founded in 2011 with a $100 million (£80 million) fund to play
with, i Ventures is going through a fairly major shake up at the

Its HQ is being relocated from New York to Silicon Valley and the
organisation is being given a higher level of autonomy so that it
can move swiftly on startups that it wants to invest in or
partner with. BMW i Ventures is also going to begin looking at
startups in Europe and Asia as opposed to just the US, which is
where i Ventures has traditionally focused.

“These days, more and more innovations come from the startup
scene,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, a member of the board of
management at BMW Group, which is responsible for MINI, BMW
Motorrad, and Rolls-Royce, in a statement. “Venturing allows us
to tap into this potential at an early stage. To achieve this, we
are now giving BMW i Ventures a much broader footing.”

He added: “The atmosphere of radical openness and idea-driven
exchange that characterises the startup scene is particularly
fruitful for an innovation leader like BMW.”

The luxury car-maker said that the i Ventures VC firm will now
operate independently and globally under the leadership of two
managing partners — Ulrich Quay and Uwe Higgen.

Since its formation, BMW i Ventures has completed more than 15
investments in various mobility-related startups. In 2014, for
example, BMW i Ventures backed San Francisco’s RideCell. The
automotive giant has used RideCell’s technology in ReachNow,
BMW’s car sharing service in the US. RideCell’s technology has
been “responsible for” the IT platform and all customer
interfaces used for reservations and billing, according to BMW.