Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH scours the globe for start-ups that have the potential to rewrite the rulebook for entire industries. Earnings potential is naturally also a factor, but the primary goal is to secure Bosch’s innovation leadership.
A camera that can detect diabetes-related damage to the retina of the human eye; an electric motor that lets boats glide noiselessly over the water; smart glasses that display elevation profiles to cyclists and guide workers around warehouses. These three technologies could scarcely be more different – and yet they have one crucial thing in common: they all originated from start-ups and have the potential to revolutionize their respective industries. For the managing directors of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC), Ingo Ramesohl and Philipp Rose, as well as their colleagues, that’s reason enough to invest in these new companies.
“We’re looking for the kind of disruptive innovations that could turn a market completely upside down. We want to make the Bosch divisions aware of them, with the ultimate aim of securing and expanding our innovation leadership.”
Since 2007, the daily task of associates at this Bosch subsidiary has been to put out feelers to find what would normally fly below the radar of a large company like Bosch — at start-up conferences, at trade fairs such as the Mobile World Congress, and on the internet. RBVC currently holds a stake in some 30 companies around the world, with its share ranging from 5 to 25 percent. But Ramesohl is quick to point out that this is not about making competitors stronger, but about investing in “complementary technologies or business models.” In any event, he continues, the important thing is to be directly active on the start-up scene, and in this way to detect trends and emergent innovations early on.
were assessed by RBVC trend scouts in 2016, of which roughly 100 were presented to the Bosch divisions
Acquiring the start-ups is not part of the plan. However, RBVC usually holds its shares in a company for several years until an appropriate exit opportunity presents itself. To minimize risks, the investments are spread across a variety of industries, regions, and stages of company development. RBVC currently has hundreds of millions of euros available for investment, split into three internal funds. Rose says, “All in all, for each fund we have to get back more than we put in.” Movidius, for example, proved to be a best-case scenario: RBVC invested in this manufacturer of specialized image-processing chips in 2013. In 2016, Movidius was sold to Intel in Silicon Valley – at many times the original price.
Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH (RBVC) helps secure the Bosch Group’s innovation leadership. It does so by investing in promising start-ups around the world. RBVC currently has stakes in some 30 companies.