The automotive industry is at the dawn of a new revolution. For Renault, innovation is a major strategic driver, one we intend to harness to succeed in the "all connected" challenge. The group and all its businesses are resolutely committed to an open innovation policy that is leading us to work together more and more with start-ups. This involves three key actions: investments in venture capital funds, the acquisition of shares in targeted companies, and partnerships with start-up accelerators.
Regarding the first action, in 2015 Groupe Renault invested in the three main funds of Partech Ventures, one of the top-performing venture capital companies* in Europe. On a day-to-day basis, the partnership with Partech Ventures gives us access to a pool of around 5,000 innovative European and US start-ups. These last are selected for their strong potential but also for the robustness of their technology and team. In 2016 alone, 50 start-ups presented their projects to our business experts, and ten of them were selected for testing on a concrete and lasting basis. Among these start-ups are Hins, a specialist in artificial intelligence, and ShowRoomer, a network of peer-to-peer showrooms.
For Groupe Renault, this is a way of seizing on emerging trends, both in terms of technology and new business models. It is also an opportunity to identify innovations in the field of new mobilities, connected services and autonomous vehicles, and test them rapidly.
The aim of the joint open innovation initiative of Groupe Renault and RCI Bank and Services is to support startups with strong potential in the areas of new mobilities, connected services, and autonomous vehicles."
When a collaborative initiative with a start-up becomes strategic for Renault, the Group reviews the acquisition of a stake in the company. In 2016, Renault invested in Chronocam, working in artificial vision, and Devialet, one of the world's most award-winning start-ups for the excellence of its innovations in sound.
We also form partnerships with start-up accelerators, as with the US firm Techstars, a global benchmark that opened an office in Paris in March 2017. Through this partnership, Groupe Renault, with RCI Bank and Services, is contributing to its first early-stage start-up acceleration program**. Registrations for start-ups opened on March 20, 2017. The closing date is June 19.
For Groupe Renault, the multiple objectives of this collaborative effort are to:
*Venture capital is an economic and financial activity that consists in contributing capital to innovative and/or high-tech companies during their creation and initial development phases in the hope of making a rapid and high return on investment.
**The nascent phase of a company, at which point it has no product or operational structure.