New Silicon Valley fund aims to connect auto companies and startups

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DETROIT (Reuters) – Autotech Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, said it had raised $120 million from automotive companies and financial investors for a fund that will invest in startups working on transportation services and digital vehicle technology.

The fund will try to connect startup companies with its corporate investors, which include big automotive suppliers BorgWarner Inc and Autoliv Inc, and two unidentified automakers, Autotech founders Quin Garcia and Alexei Andreev told Reuters ahead of Wednesday’s announcement of the fund.

The fund already has investments in ride service company Lyft; Outdoorsy, which enables users to share recreational vehicles; and Work Truck Solutions, which designs software to help owners of commercial truck fleets track their vehicles.

Older transportation companies are looking for ideas on how to make money from vehicles after the initial sale, such as through sharing services. They also are interested in startups that could help them use data acquired from vehicles to sell insurance or locate and pay for parking, Garcia and Andreev said.

The new Autotech Ventures fund comes as vehicle manufacturers and suppliers are scouring the technology sector for talent and ideas but are wary of overpaying.

General Motors Co’s estimated $1 billion acquisition of self-driving vehicle company Cruise Automation and Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] purchase of self-driving truck startup Otto have accelerated this trend.

In the self-driving vehicle arena, the Autotech Ventures fund will focus on companies developing specific technology, “rather than a jack of all trades,” Garcia said.

Autotech Ventures has invested in Deepscale, a startup developing technology that processes the information a car gets from sensors about the surrounding environment but is not trying to build an entire operating system for an autonomous vehicle.

Reporting by Joseph White; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn