What is a Venture Client?

We are proud pioneers of the venture client model in the automotive industry

What do you need to know?

Find the answers in our extensive FAQ


  • 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 is a Venture Client and how is it different from 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.

  • How does BMW Startup Garage acquire our technology, and what’s the payment structure?

    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.

  • What happens during the program and how long does it last?

    The program spans a maximum duration of 12 weeks. During this time, you will:

    Validate your technology: Your primary focus will be to integrate your technology into our vehicles for validation. You will receive a detailed requirements brief prior to the program's commencement.

    Learn: Immerse yourself in the automotive world as we provide insights into industry dynamics, development processes, manufacturing, and purchasing within the automotive sector.

    Network: Connect with key individuals who can accelerate your business growth both within BMW and the broader global automotive industry.

    Sell: Develop a compelling use case and business strategy to gain traction for your technology within the automotive context.

  • What happens after the program?

    Upon successful validation of your technology through the BMW Startup Garage program, we aim to establish a long-term partnership with your startup. It's likely that your technology will require further development before integration into our series vehicles. Negotiations regarding additional development and supplier agreements will take place directly with our R&D and purchasing departments. Ideally, these discussions will commence during the program itself. We'll also facilitate connections with our network of suppliers if you intend to further develop, manufacture, and/or market your technology through established channels.

  • What startups are you seeking and what are the essential requirements for collaboration?

    BMW Use Case: Your solution (product, service, or technology) should offer a compelling use case to enhance any aspect of BMW Group's operations, spanning divisions such as Automotive, Mobility Services, Manufacturing, IT, Sales & Marketing, and HR. Your solution can either originate from within the automotive industry or find applications in various other sectors.

    Functional Product or Prototype: Your startup should possess a functional prototype or a working product that is mature enough for integration and validation within a BMW division.

    Full-Time Team: Key positions within your startup, including CEO, CTO, CMO, and others, should be held by full-time team members.

    Maturity and Funding Status: Your startup should have graduated from an equity accelerator program or have received funding from professional venture capitalists.

    Legal Entity: Your startup must have a legal entity status, regardless of its country or type(e.g., Inc., LLC, GmbH, etc.).


  • Can non-automotive startups apply?

    Absolutely! Some of our most intriguing innovations have originated from outside the automotive industry. If you have a groundbreaking technology or unique use case that hasn't been explored in the automotive sector, we encourage you to apply. We're on the lookout for fresh perspectives and ideas that can redefine the future of mobility.

  • When is the application deadline?

    While there isn't a specific application deadline, please note that we have a limited capacity for startups. Applying early increases your chances of acceptance.

  • What is the BMW Startup Garage?

    The BMW Startup Garage is the Venture Client unit of the BMW Group, forging unique partnerships with startups in their early stages of development. Unlike traditional Venture Capital approaches, we invest in a startup's product, service, or technology, rather than acquiring equity. Joining our program marks the first step for startups aiming to excel in the expansive global automotive industry. It entails a no-strings-attached collaboration focused on integrating and validating a startup's offering within BMW Group vehicles. Additionally, we facilitate invaluable networking opportunities, connecting entrepreneurs with top-tier automotive engineers and managers. The BMW Startup Garage specifically targets startups dedicated to enhancing our vehicles and the overall driving experience, encompassing both automotive-focused companies and those from diverse industries with technologies that hold promise for the automotive sector.

  • When and how can my startup apply?

    We welcome applications on an ongoing basis, and there is no fixed application deadline. The application form is accessible online. For additional guidance, please refer to our application guidelines.

Location & Language

  • What language should I use for my application submission? What language is used in the program?

    Please submit all your application documents in English. The program can be conducted in either German or English, but no knowledge of German is required to participate.

  • Why is the BMW Startup Garage located in Munich, and do startups need to relocate?

    Munich offers startups an ideal environment to fast-track technology integration into our vehicles and build essential business networks with BMW decision-makers. With our global headquarters and central R&D situated here, Munich serves as the epicenter for defining our innovation strategies and vehicle development. While you do not need to relocate your entire company, a portion of your team will need to be in Munich for a specific duration (4 to 12weeks) to facilitate technology integration, networking, and industry learning. Rest assured, we provide free office space during your Munich stay.