BMW thinks startups are sexy, builds them a garage

There’s no getting around it: startups are proper sexy. Everywhere you look, cities are trying to attract high-growth tech companies and the founders of companies that haven’t made a cent in revenue can sell them for billions of dollars. That excitement is contagious too: just ask BMW.

Fresh off comparing its M6 Gran Coupe to the kind of person who wins Entrepreneur of the Year awards, the German marque has announced that it’ll be launching its own startup garage programme.

According to BMW, the programme is meant to allow startups to effectively collaborate on projects as well as making it easier for startups to present their ideas to the company.

The garage isn’t BMW’s only startup project either. Its venture capital company BMW i Ventures is meant to foster exchange with young enterprises developing innovative solutions for urban mobility.

The group has also partnered with the Centre for Innovation and Business Creation – UnternehmerTUM – at Munich’s Technical University in order to set up the “TEchFounders” accelerator programme for technology startups. The Accelerator Programme introduces the BMW Group to innovative technologies, products and services at a very early stage, with the option of working together with the startup teams.

Startups selected to be part of BMW’s garage programme reportedly undergo a special programme lasting several months. At the core of this programme is the development of a functional prototype with an application relevant to the BMW Group. Startups also receive assistance in building up their network within the group and in drawing up a business plan.

BMW says that any startup anywhere in the world can apply. It also says the scheme is not restricted to companies in the automotive sector, but extends to technologies that can be transferred to automotive engineering applications. However, applicants must meet a number of requirements as well: “We’re looking for good startups and not good inventors,” explains BMW innovation manager Matthias Meyer. “Anyone thinking of applying needs to bring along not just a great idea but a great team as well. After all, only a top-flight team can make ideas work successfully.”



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