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BMW, Alibaba open innovation base in Shanghai

Updated: 2021-05-25


A BMW Vision M NEXT electric vehicle is seen displayed at the BMW booth during a media day for the Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai, April 19, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

German premium carmaker BMW and China's Alibaba have started operation of a joint innovation base in Shanghai, as part of the two companies' efforts to empower Chinese tech startups with their expertise and resources.

In three years the base will provide no less than 300 companies with advanced cloud computing infrastructure from Alibaba, access to BMW experts and BMW business units via the BMW Startup Garage, said the carmaker in a statement on Thursday.

BMW said the focus of the startups at the base will be on innovative products, solutions and services that help bridge the internet, the internet of things and the automotive industry.

Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China, said: "Having become a global innovation power house, China is providing an ever expanding playing field for start-up companies especially in science and technology."

"In this context, BMW Group is also scaling up its digital footprint in China as well as accelerating our transformation towards electrification."

BMW said more than 20 startups covering strategic innovation fields such as digitization, electrification and sustainability have already set up their offices in the joint incubator.

"Vehicle innovations in China mainly revolve around digitalization, smart connectivity, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving and those digital innovations are happening at a breath-taking pace," said Peter Lehnert, BMW's vice-president of new technologies, research and innovation digital car.

"Our new joint innovation base will act as accelerator to further strengthen our engagement with Chinese top-startups," said Lehnert.

In addition to promoting open innovation in China, BMW has also teamed up with Alibaba to accelerate digital transformation.

In October 2020, the two signed a memo to conduct comprehensive cooperation in branding, marketing, channels, end-to-end operations, services and information technology.

The deal was aimed at implementing the digitalization strategy into BMW China's full business process, and enabling its dealers to provide an end-to-end online-to-offline digital experience for customers.

"We will continue to deepen our collaboration with both established Chinese tech players as well as skilled new talents to foster their respective strength on innovation," said Goller.