One thing is certain in the connected car movement: New technology players arrive every day. Ideas come to life, companies are formed, fresh faces emerge. All these companies need is seed funding to get started, and venture capital (VC) groups have traditionally been a go-to source.
While Silicon Valley has been known to host a majority of these VC groups, there is a movement in the Midwest to bring this funding mechanism into the greater Detroit area. Ford Motor Company announced that it will be teaming with Verizon Wireless and auto supplier Magna International to collectively invest over $2 million in funding for an accelerator known as “Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit.” The tech incubator claims that it will fund 30 start-ups over the next three years, with the first wave of 10 companies to be chosen for the initial program beginning in June, 2015.
We have witnessed a higher level of collaboration between automakers and technology companies in Silicon Valley, and this collaborative atmosphere is quickly permeating the 100-plus-year Detroit automotive culture. Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, said “It will be great to be part of bringing that type of new thinking to Detroit and the automotive industry.”
Techstars, founded in Colorado in 2006, has locations in London, New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Austin and San Antonio, Texas. Opening in Detroit, Techstars collaborated with local VC firms Renaissance Venture Capital, Fontinalis Partners and Detroit Venture Partners among others who have expressed interest. Program recruitment will continue at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in the Eureka Park TechZone, a dedicated display area showcasing tech company start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Will this growing VC activity bring tech development and capital to the greater Detroit area? The Silicon Valley consortium of companies, R&D centers and VC investment firms have a 25-year head start on Detroit, so it’s not likely that we’ll see significant talent migrate from Mountain View to Motor City. But if this begins the long process of culture change and cross-industry collaboration to Detroit automakers, expect to see innovation take the wheel and accelerate in-car tech development to new heights.
Source: Detroit tech incubator created – The Detroit News