Volkswagen has taken a stake in energy investor EIT InnoEnergy and hopes that closer cooperation in future will lead to joint innovation and investment activities, which are to be driven primarily by the involvement of promising start-ups.
The official announcement of Volkswagen’s new participation states that the aim is to “help technologies and business models achieve a commercial breakthrough that contribute to the decarbonisation of the transport sector and accelerate the turn towards electromobility”. How much Wolfsburg is investing in EIT InnoEnergy and what share it now holds in return is not clear from the carmaker’s press release.
Briefly, EIT InnoEnergy describes itself as an innovation community supported by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), an institution of the European Union. The entity is organised as a public-private partnership and often acts as an investor in the climate and renewable energy sector. According to its own information, it has invested in around 500 industrial companies since its foundation in 2010. EIT InnoEnergy is also involved in several European initiatives, including the European Battery Alliance (EBA), the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Centre (EGHAC) and the European Solar Initiative (ESI).
Volkswagen and EIT InnoEnergy already know each other. They can look back on more than five years of fruitful cooperation, according to the Wolfsburg headquarters. Both sides describe themselves as central players within the European Battery Alliance (EBA), and both are investors in Northvolt and H2 Green Steel, a Swedish manufacturer of green steel.
“In order to decarbonize the transport sector, we will need a wide range of innovations. In addition to our own activities, in the future we will also increasingly rely on cooperation with start-ups to achieve this,” expresses Jens Wiese, Head of Group M&A, Investment Advisory and Partnerships at Volkswagen AG. The partnership with EIT InnoEnergy will help Volkswagen to find the most promising companies from all areas of the energy transition, which can then be supported in scaling their business model.
According to Diego Pavia, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy, the transport sector is in the midst of one of its biggest disruptions ever. “The transport sector is going through one of its biggest upheavals ever. Automotive companies are faced with a choice: either drive this transformation or be driven. Volkswagen has seized the opportunity to put itself at the forefront of this change and to shape it. Therefore, it makes us even more proud to have Volkswagen on board as a new shareholder and to take our collaboration to the next level. Looking at our 300 portfolio companies from all areas of sustainable energy, there is huge potential in Volkswagen and us joining forces to accelerate the decarbonisation of the transport sector.”
EIT InnoEnergy’s latest foray was in October when it invested in and initiated a strategic partnership with Serbian company ElevenEs, which announced the construction of the first LFP battery gigafactory in Europe. EIT InnoEnergy is already familiar with the battery sector, having invested in the French start-up Verkor and, as mentioned, Northvolt.
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