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Renault-Nissan launches US$1b innovation fund

CEO Carlos Ghosn announces the creation of Alliance Ventures.

US$200m to be made available this year for EVs, AI and autonomous driving innovation, as well as a confirmed investment in solid-state battery technology.

Even as tech firms and carmakers compete for exposure during some of the year’s biggest technology announcements at CES, a new US$1b investment fund is guaranteed to generate column inches.

Yesterday Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi announced the launch of Alliance Ventures, a new corporate venture capital fund aimed at investing up to US$1 billion in “open innovation” over the next five years.

Capital investment will be split between Renault (40%), Nissan (40%) and Mitsubishi Motors (20%)

According to the partners, its first year would see it invest up to US$200 million in start-ups and tech partnerships with aimed at advancing mobility, including vehicle electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and AI. They also claim it would make the unit the largest corporate venture capital fund in the industry.

Alliance Ventures is to be led by François Dossa, whose most recent position was CEO of Nissan Brazil. It will also identify opportunities using a team of experts from Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Alliance stated that: “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.”

Its first investment will be in Ionic Materials, a US company reportedly developing solid-state battery materials without cobalt. The Massachusetts-based firm, is developing a solid polymer electrolyte with a view to offering improved, cost-effective high-energy density batteries for automotive and other applications.

So far the company claims to have developed a polymer that conducts at up to 1.3 mS/cm at room temperature, and at “high” voltages of 5V.

In addition to equity, the Alliance has also initiated a joint-development agreement which would see the group cooperate on R&D, potentially giving Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi an advantage when deploying the technology into their own vehicles.

 

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