Tech collaboration among automotive manufacturers appear to be driving the industry today. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is no different but the three have taken it up a notch by launching what they call a 'venture capital ecosystem'. Dubbed Alliance Ventures, the consortium plans to invest up to $1 billion to support technology research and development over the next five years.

The purpose of Alliance Ventures is to invest in start-ups to bring new technologies and businesses to the Alliance while ensuring a fair financial return. The fund aims to make strategic investments at all start-up stages along with the goal of new automotive entrepreneurs which will pave the way for new partnerships. Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors will jointly fund the entity at 40-, 40- and 20-percent, respectively. Each will have a dedicated committee to make investment decisions and monitor their performance.

“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,” said Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi.

Alliance Ventures will be led by François Dossa, who has over 20 years of experience in investment banking, plus six years of experience within the Alliance, most recently, as chief executive officer of Nissan Brazil. The Alliance Ventures team will also draw on the expertise and business opportunities identified by a Cross-Functional Team of experts from Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.

Alliance Ventures has already invested in Ionic Materials, a US-based company which is developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials. The equity acquisition coincides with the execution of a joint-development agreement with the Alliance for the purpose of R&D cooperation.

Ionic is a developer of solid polymer electrolyte that enables improved performance and cost effectiveness of high-energy density batteries for automotive and other multiple applications.

“This investment initiative is designed to attract the world’s most promising automotive-technology start-ups to the Alliance,” added Ghosn.

As the years go by, Alliance Ventures will be investing in more tech startups, not just in the field of improving electric vehicles, but also in autonomous driving technologies.

As part of the Alliance 2022 strategic plan, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is forecasting that the combined revenues of its member companies will reach $240 billion and that annual unit sales will exceed 14 million by the end of 2022.