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What does car manufacturer BMW offer start-ups?

Matching new products and brands with in-house investment

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and start-ups.

A good example of…

Strategic investments

European headquarters: Munich, Germany

Geographical reach: USA, Europe, Israel

Sector/s of interest: Mobility services, automotive technologies, urban innovation

Works with start-ups through:

  • BMW i Ventures, which has offices in New York, Munich and Silicon Valley and has invested in over 16 start-ups in the US, Europe and Israel
  • BMW Startup Garage, which helps early-stage companies in the automotive technology sector through a paid pilot project with the BMW Group
  • The Urban-X accelerator programme in Brooklyn, which focuses on solving urban problems
  • Events including hackathons, meetups and conferences

Why does BMW work with start-ups?

The car manufacturer BMW works with start-ups in order to gain a greater understanding of new markets, to solve business problems, and to rejuvenate corporate culture.

How does BMW work with start-ups?

BMW i Ventures invests in start-ups and operates as a facilitator between BMW and its portfolio companies.

Meanwhile, BMW Startup Garage offers a gateway for start-ups into the multi-trillion dollar automotive industry. It offers ‘no strings attached’ co-development partnerships, as well as a network of top automotive engineers and managers.

And BMW’s Urban-X accelerator programme, based in Brooklyn, New York, catalyses, educates, invests in, and advocates for start-ups that are shaping the future of cities through technology. Start-ups receive $60,000 and access to a wide range of city innovators and mentoring resources.

What has BMW done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

The BMW i Ventures team have offices in New York, Munich and Silicon Valley. They often create joint workgroups between BMW employees and start-ups in order to support co-development or go-to market strategies. An investment manager acts as a connector between start-ups and the BMW Group.

Alongside BMW i Ventures, BMW Startup Garage helps early-stage companies in the automotive sector to sell products and services to BMW, and gives them access to tools and resources without exchange of any equity.

Success story: Moovit

Moovit is one of BMW i Ventures’ most successful investments. The Israeli start-up built a global public transit navigation application, which now has more than 40 million users in over 1,000 cities globally. It also integrates with DriveNow, BMW’s car sharing offering.

The application uses a database incorporating local public transport timetables, as well as information about further transport options such as taxis, bike-sharing and car-sharing services. It allows users to find the fastest route to any destination they have entered in their smartphone.


“The success stories presented by BMW and its programmes are a great example of mutual collaboration and BMW’s long-term view”

Andy McCartney, Corporate Startup Stars judge


What can other corporates learn from BMW about working with start-ups?

  • A venture capital fund can operate as a connector between start-ups and the rest of a large organisation, and facilitate wider cooperation
  • A presence in different geographies allows to access to the best players in the industry and ensures success
  • A transparent offering for start-ups and flexible processes are key

What is BMW looking for from the start-ups it works with?

BMW i Ventures invests in cutting-edge solutions that focus on the mobility needs of the urban population. It supports high-potential start-ups, dedicated to shaping the future of global mobility, at all stages.

BMW Startup Garage is looking for start-ups with an innovative technology product or service that can significantly advance or disrupt the automotive industry.

How can start-ups get involved with BMW?

To get involved with BMW i Ventures, click here.

To get involved with BMW Startup Garage, click here.

To get involved with Urban-X, click here.
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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.


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