Despite the challenging business environment, the Bosch Group is raising its venture-capital funding for the current business year: its subsidiary Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC) is setting up a new fund for startups; the fund has a volume of 250 million euros (approximately $250 million).
As a provider of venture capital, Bosch supports startups around the world whose technologies have the potential to improve quality of life and conserve natural resources.
“Our investments in startups promote technological progress in business and society,” says Dr Stefan Hartung, chairman of the board of management of Robert Bosch. “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.”
As an innovation leader, Bosch is at the forefront of efforts to bring about climate-neutral technology, sustainable mobility, and connectivity, which is why RBVC investments also focus on fields such as energy efficiency and powertrain electrification.
Bosch recently announced that it will be investing billions in climate-neutral technology, including hydrogen technologies and the digital transformation of its business.
Expanding globally: RBVC to open new office in US
RBVC, one of Europe’s largest corporate investors, 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.
RBVC 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.
Through its own locations and contact persons for the startup scene, RBVC maintains a presence in technology hotspots around the world, such as China, Germany, Israel, and the US.
Its US office in Sunnyvale is now to be joined by a further office on the Atlantic coast, in Boston.
“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,” says Dr Ingo Ramesohl, managing director at Robert Bosch Venture Capital. “This second US office will ensure we are even better at keeping our finger on the pulse of technology startups.”
Open Bosch: exploiting technology trends at an early stage
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,” Ramesohl says. “That’s why we also want to identify technological trends that can provide relief in such situations.”
Each year, RBVC invests in six to 10 carefully selected companies. In addition to capital, it also offers know-how and operational support. As Ramesohl points out, RBVC pursues an open culture of innovation with its Open Bosch program, forging links between startups and 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.
Successful investments ensure technological progress
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 US that reduces trucking costs and fuel consumption.