In my role as Brand Ambassador to Israel for the Rackspace Startups Program, I get to go all over country to meet, connect, and mentor at the various accelerators and workspaces that dot the land of Startup Nation.
Early into my being here, I connected with Boaz Mamo who serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Ecomotion, which manages theSmart Transportation Accelerator as part of the Israel Innovation Institute.
Boaz and his team not only run the program, but do so as a joint venture of the Prime Minister’s Office (Fuel Choices Initiative),Ministry of Science, Keren Hayesod and the Israeli Automotive and High-Tech industry. The idea here is to build an interdisciplinary community that is soley focused on Smart Transportation, stimulating multiple solutions in R&D and entrepreneurship, and developing smart transportation.
As with most programs, Ecomotion held an event that not only included a pitch night for their startups, but also featured demonstrations of transportation innovation from early stage startups to U.S. auto giant,General Motors, which, like more than 250 other major corporations from around the world, maintain an R&D center in Israel.
In the case of BMW, they are looking for startups who want to come to Germany, have access to what could be what I can only call the Ultimate First Customer, with no strings attached.
Gregor’s program does not take equity, they let you keep your IP, and if you’re idea / startup is used by BMW, chances are it could lead to other new business for you in other areas of the automotive industry.
BMW is not going at this alone.
They’ve teamed with the Centre for Innovation and Business Creation — UnternehmerTUM — at Munich’s Technical University in order to set up the “TechFounders” accelerator program for technology startups. So what you have here is a process in a world class university, and access to my very favorite car company in the world, BMW.
BMW is not looking to invest in startups.
They are looking to work with startups.
They want to be your first client, what Gregor calls your venture client.
BMW wants to connect with startups with innovative technology that will help improve the car, or the driving experience. What they are not looking for is what manufacture or sell and market cars.
The automotive industry as a whole represents a 10 trillion dollar market opportunity. Gregor is clear to point out that the automotive indusrty is just starting to wake up to startups.
So if you have an idea, and want to apply you can do so here.
Ladies and Gentlemen, start your startup engines.