Torsten Gollewski is CEO of Zukunft Ventures, a new venture capital subsidiary of the global parts and technology supplier ZF Friedrichshafen.
Zukunft Ventures' role is to invest in young companies with technologies that might help achieve ZF's goals in autonomous driving. Zukunft means "future" in English. This year, 60 companies had three minutes each to present their ideas to the subsidiary at a pitch night. Gollewski, 48, spoke about Zukunft Ventures with Automotive News Europe Correspondent Olive Keogh.
Q: Why was Zukunft Ventures formed?
A: Because we see many changes coming. For example, artificial intelligence is a game changer for autonomous driving, but it's also an accelerator for technology. We believe that cooperation and collaboration with startup companies, midtech companies and even with big players like Nvidia, are important to act as quickly as possible on new market demands.
What are examples of Zukunft investments?
We have invested in Astyx near Munich, a technology company focused on future radar technology. We have also invested in doubleSlash, a well developed IT software company in Friedrichshafen with established relationships with leading OEMs.
Zukunft has invested in lidar, too.
We invested in Ibeo in Hamburg, a leading supplier of solid-state lidar technology, which is important for high-density mapping and therefore a very important part of our autonomous driving strategy. If you think about forward-looking safety systems, lidar will be an important enabling technology.
Zukunft invests in varying amounts. Why is that flexibility important?
Most other companies have a fixed amount of capital, anywhere between 100 million to 500 million euros ($120 million to $598 million), and they invest smaller amounts in a number of companies to diversify their risks. The big difference in our approach is that we want Zukunft Ventures to help ZF implement its strategy.