Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car manufacturer, has announced the launch of Mobility & Automobile Innovation Lab (MAIL), its flagship innovation/acceleration program for early-stage startups in the automobile and mobility space, which allows the auto major to tap on innovative startups with solutions that it believes are futuristic and customer oriented, reported NDTV Auto.
Through this initiative, Maruti, which is also gearing up to deliver a fleet of electric cars in India by 2020, will provide a platform to the budding talent in India to showcase their entrepreneurial capabilities at a national level.
For same, Maruti Suzuki has partnered with Gurugram-based startup accelerator GHV Accelerator, an Indo-Japanese early-stage seed fund with proprietary accelerator program and industry co-creation program.
MAIL will allow startups with ideas in the areas of connected cars, shared mobility, autonomous cars, electric vehicle and its infrastructure etc. The startups should have a business plan, first feasibility concepts and market understanding.
Explaining about the program, Mr. Kenichi Ayukawa, Managing Director & CEO, Maruti Suzuki India said, “The Indian Automobile industry is constantly evolving. The need of the hour is to have a relentless approach towards promoting a culture of innovation. This initiative will help Maruti Suzuki leverage the innovation capability of startups to provide unique solutions in the mobility and automobile space.”
The Proof of Concept (PoC) of selected startups would be monitored for 4 months along with their business models being optimized, pain points evaluated and their innovation specific strategies would be built across, according to MAIL’s website.
Startups with innovations in these fields would be offered an opportunity by Maruti Suzuki to turn their ideas into reality, the company said in a statement. The Indian automobile industry is currently undergoing a transformation and requires unique solutions in the mobility and automobile space, it said.
Maruti Suzuki has roped in Germany-based corporate innovation expert and startup mentor Tanja Kufner, German Autolabs founder Holger G. Weiss, Panasonic’s energy systems division head Atul Arya, prolific angel investor Sanjay Mehta etc.
From the cohort, the winning startups would be eligible for prize money or an opportunity to do a paid POC with Maruti Suzuki.
While startups that are already funded can also apply for the program, the company hasn’t disclosed whether the equity stake will be involved in its portfolio startups.
Corporates supporting startups in mentoring and capital support has been a rising trend among the startup ecosystems globally. In India, multinational giants and software powerhouses including Google, Microsoft, Target, Cisco, Pitney Bowes, Reliance, Tata, Oracle, SAP, etc., have been running incubation or accelerator programs to capture innovative startups.
Additionally, Suzuki, the parent of Maruti Suzuki Ltd, would start production of lithium-ion batteries for automobiles at its plant in western India from 2020. Suzuki said that EVs are expensive due to the high cost of batteries which are still not manufactured in India.
To recall, Hyundai Motors, which Maruti’s top competitor in India, has already tapped into Indian Startup Ecosystem as in November last year, Hyundai led INR 100 Cr funding of Revv, a Delhi-NCR based shared mobility platform.
Also in this month, India’s leading automotive R&D organization, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), has announced that it will set up a new mobility research center to test the futuristic vehicles like autonomous and connected or IoT-enabled vehicles. The announcement was made by Rashmi Urdhwareshe, Director of ARAI.
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