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What is the BMW Startup Garage?

The BMW Startup Garage is the Venture Client unit of the BMW Group. As a Venture Client, the BMW Group becomes a client of a startup, at an early stage when its product, service or technology is not yet mature. In comparison to Venture Capital, we purchase a first unit of a startup’s product, service or technology, not its equity.

Participation into our program is a startup’s first step to succeed in the global, multi trillion dollar automotive industry. It consist of a no-strings-attached partnership to integrate and validate a startup’s product, service or technology in BMW Group vehicles as well as to network entrepreneurs with top automotive engineers and managers.

The BMW Startup Garage centers on startups that help us improve our vehicles and the driving experience. Startups admitted to the program are:

  • Automotive startups – companies who target exclusively the automotive industry
  • Startups from other industries – companies that have a technology for many industries, who believe their solution can also be of significant value to the automotive industry

What is a Venture Client? How is it different to Venture Capital?

The BMW Startup Garage is the Venture Client unit of the BMW Group. As a Venture Client, the BMW Group becomes a client of a startup, at an early stage when its product, service or technology is not yet mature.

In comparison to Venture Capital, we purchase a first unit of a startup’s product, service or technology, not its equity. This means that startups get a supplier status, supplier number, purchase order and revenue. We do not invest, i.e. we do not ask for shares or equity.

We invented and are pioneering the Venture Client model. We see it as an highly efficient and effective way to integrate early stage startups with a corporation like the BMW Group.

Is the BMW Startup Garage an accelerator?

Nope. We are the Venture Client unit for early stage startups for the BMW Group.

As a Venture Client, we take startups that graduated from accelerators. We focus on validating their prototypes, helping them learn about the automotive industry and connecting them with decision makers for business development. For that, startups work directly with our engineers and managers on real innovation projects. They get a supplier number and purchase order, and they invoice us for their technology, products and services.

In comparison, accelerators generally focus on activities that help entrepreneurs getting their business started, such as building first prototypes and business models, establishing a legal structure, identifying target clients and raising seed funding.

Accelerators do not function as a client of a startup. We do. Which is why we build on the invaluable work of accelerators. We are the natural next step in the evolution of a startup: a Venture Client – not another accelerator.

What startups are you looking for and what are the Must Haves to apply?

  1. Automotive use case
    Your technology has a compelling use case to improve our vehicles and the driving experience. Your technology can originate from or be applied in any other industry.
  2. Functional product or prototype
    Your startup has a functional prototype or working product. Prototypes must be mature enough to be integrated and validated in a vehicle.
  3. BMW is your first automotive OEM & OES client
    BMW is your first OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or OES (Original Equipment Supplier) client. Hence, you have not entered any contractual relationship with any other automotive OEM or OES. You may have clients in other industries.
  4. Full-time team
    Main positions (CEO, CTO, CMO, etc.) of your startup are held by full-time employees.
  5. Maturity and funding status
    Your startup has graduated from an accelerator or has funding from a professional venture capitalist.
  6. Legal entity
    Your startup must be a legal entity (of any country and type, such as Inc. , LLC, GmbH, etc.).

My startup is not automotive. Can I apply?

Yes! In fact, some of our most interesting innovations were sparked in other industries. You just may have a technology or use case that nobody in automotive has thought about. And that is what we are looking for.

When and how can my startup apply?

What is the application deadline?

There is no deadline. However, we can only take in a limited number of startups. So, the faster you apply, the higher the chances to be accepted.

What about money? Do you buy our technology or do you invest? How much?

  • The BMW Startup Garage is a Venture Client for startups, not Venture Capital. This means, we purchase a first unit of your technology, not your equity. BMW becomes your first automotive client, not your shareholder. Once accepted into the program you get a supplier number and a purchase order.
  • The money you receive when accepted to the program is a payment for a prototype of your technology and the costs associated with its integration and validation. This payment accounts as revenue. It is not an equity investment.
  • Having gained BMW Group as a client, should make it easier for you to raise venture capital and increase your valuation.
  • How much do you pay for the prototype integration? This depends on the complexity of your technology. We have no set limit.
  • What cost are covered? All costs related to the integration and validation of your technology, including materials, travel, etc. Once you receive our requirements, you will be able to propose a budget.

Why is the BMW Startup Garage located in Munich and do we have to re-locate?

  • As a startup, there is no better place for you to be than in Munich to get your technology into our vehicles fast and to build your business development network with BMW decision makers. That is because our global Headquarters, including our central R&D, is located in Munich. It is here where we define our innovation strategies and develop our vehicles.
  • You do not have to relocate your company to Munich.
  • Part of your team will have to be in Munich for part of the program (4 to 12 weeks), in order to integrate your technology into our vehicles, network and learn about the automotive industry.
  • Yes, we will provide you with free office space for the time of your stay in Munich.

What happens during the program? How long is the program?

The program length is limited to 12 weeks.

During the program you will:

  • Validate your technology: Your main task is to integrate your technology into our vehicles for validation. For this, you will receive a specific requirements brief before the start of the program.
  • Learn: Here you will learn how to succeed in the automotive world. We will teach you the industry dynamics and how development, manufacturing and purchasing works.
  • Network: You will get linked to those people that are key to grow your business within BMW and the global automotive industry.
  • Sell: This module helps you gain traction for your technology by creating a compelling automotive use and business case.

What happens after the program?

  • After successful validation of your technology, BMW Group aims to become a long term client of your startup.
  • Most probably, your technology has to be further developed after the program before it becomes part of our series vehicles.
  • You will negotiate further development and / or supplier agreements directly with R&D and our purchasing department. These negotiations will ideally start already during the program.
  • We will also connect you with our suppliers, in case you want to further develop, manufacture and/or sell your technology through an established supplier.

Other useful info

  • What is the application language? English. Please submit all your application documents in English.
  • What is the program language? German or English. No knowledge of German needed.

Questions? Please contact us.

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