German carmaker BMW to set up Tel Aviv center to scout for new tech

German carmaker BMW to set up Tel Aviv center to scout for new tech

A BMW team will work with startups to further develop their technologies, and set up joint research projects with universities

A BMW logo over a Berlin showroom (CC BY Mangan 2002, Wikimedia Commons)
A BMW logo over a Berlin showroom (CC BY Mangan 2002, Wikimedia Commons)

BMW Group, the German car and motorcycle maker, plans to open a “Technology Office” in Tel Aviv in mid-2019 with a dedicated team to scout for technologies developed by Israeli startups and academia.

“Tel Aviv has been a tech center for years now, with new startups arriving on the tech scene every year, so it’s only fitted that BMW will tap into the Israeli talent for their upcoming Tech Office,” the firm said in a blog post Wednesday.

The tech office in Tel Aviv will be the fifth of its kind within the global R&D network of the BMW Group, the post said. BMW has technology offices in the USA, China, Japan and South Korea.

“Tel Aviv has one of the fastest growing startup scenes in the world — especially in the important future fields for us such as autonomous driving or connectivity,” Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of management of BMW AG, Development, was cited as saying.

Setting up a presence in Tel Aviv “will secure even faster access to the relevant trends and technologies, be it with startups or universities,” he said.

The team will work with local startups and evaluate and further develop their technologies, and seek to set up joint research projects with universities, the blog post said.

BMW Group, Intel Corp and Mobileye, acquired by Intel in 2017,  have set up a partnership to work to jointly develop self driving cars.

BMW is not the first international car maker to set up an R&D office in Israel. The nation has long lacked its own car manufacturing industry, but, in the push to make cars smarter and more autonomous, is now benefiting from the confluence of the industry with software, sensors and all things digital.

General Motors, the US maker of Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillacs, opened a technical center in 2008 in Herzliya, one of the first car makers to do so.

In 2017, car manufacturing giant Mercedes-Benz, a division of the German company Daimler AG, opened a new technology hub in Tel Aviv to help the maker of world’s first automobile tap into the newest auto and security technologies being in Israel.

Last year the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, one of the world’s leading automotive alliances, said it was setting up a new corporate venture capital fund to invest up to $1 billion over five years to support startups and partnerships focused on auto technologies around the world, including Israel.

In October, Harman International Industries Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. focused on connected technologies for the automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, opened a new 46,000-square foot (4,273-square meter) facility that will be the base of all of its activities in Israel.

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