November 12, 2019

Top automotive industry accelerators

There has been an explosion of automobile company accelerators — since around 2017 almost every major carmaker runs some kind of startup programme. But programmes vary hugely in terms of what is on offer.

Kimberly Eynon

5 min read

There has been an explosion of automobile company accelerators over the past few years. BMW's Startup Garage and Daimler's Startup Autobahn were some of the earliest on the scene, but since around 2017 almost every major carmaker has had some kind of startup programme.

The duration of the programme can be anywhere from 10 weeks (Volvo iLabX) to a year (MobilityXlab). Some take equity, others don't, but most don't disclose what they do publicly, making it hard for startups to compare programmes.

Jaguar Land Rover's Studio 107 takes equity but the percentage depends on the venture. They have three models: a Studio 107 minority stake (similar to a venture capital model), joint ventures (where another corporate/ strategic investor comes in as well) and Jaguar Land Rover captive businesses, where they integrate the startup with the parent company and the management team is compensated rather than given equity.


BMW's Startup Garage is an interesting “venture client” model — where the company takes no equity but becomes the first client for the company. Startup Autobahn has funded some of the most recognisable startups, including process management company Celonis and What3words, the mapping company.

We'd love to know what model you think works best. If you are involved in one of these accelerator programmes please get in touch and tell us about your experience.

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Honda Xcelerator

Founded: 2015

Location: Silicon Valley, China, Europe, Japan & Israel

Duration: 3-6 months

Model: The program offers funding for rapid prototyping and also gives startups a collaborative workspace, and pair each startup with Honda mentors. They do not accept startups in set batches which is also more convenient for some entrepreneurs participating.

Funding: Undisclosed

Equity: 0%

Notable startups: Perceptive Automata



Future Mobility 

Founded: 2017

Location: Dresden, Germany

Duration: 6 months

Model: The program is part of the new mobility strategy of Volkswagen group, six startups are chosen per class focused on mobility topics such as connected car, e-mobility/charging solutions, logistics and industry 4.0. Another interesting perk is that the state capital of Dresden, which supports the Incubator Program, pays for accommodation in Dresden for the duration of the program.

Funding: €15,000 (~£13,000)

Equity: 0%

Notable startup: Embotech



Startup Garage

Founded: 2015

Location: Munich, Germany

Duration: 12 weeks

Model: BMW uses a format they call 'Venture Client' - instead of investing in startups, BMW becomes their first client. Startups are chosen at an early stage of its product, service or technology.

Funding: Startups are paid (revenue)

Equity: 0%

Notable startup: Aito



Startup Autobahn

Founded: 2016

Location: Stuttgart, Germany

Duration: 5 months

Model: One of the earliest accelerators. The program is run by Plug n Play and act as a first meeting facilitator. The startups negotiate with the corporates for MVP funding.

Funding: Yes but undisclosed

Equity: 0%

Notable startups: Dataiku, Celonis, What3Words


Jaguar Land Rover

Studio 107

Founded: 2018

Location:  London, UK

Duration: 6 months

Model: Jaguar's VC arm, InMotion, invests in companies at the early stage, pre-seed to Series B but if a company is little more than an idea it could be a candidate for Jaguar Land Rover’s incubator programme Studio 107.

Funding: Undisclosed

Equity: Yes but % undisclosed

Notable startups: The OUT, Lenny, Carpe




Founded: 2018

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina

Duration: 10 weeks

Model: The programs is run out of Volvo Financial Services and offers startups to trial a product as well as mentoring from senior Volvo executives.

Funding: Undisclosed

Equity: Undisclosed

Notable startups: Launch Mobility, e-bot7, Encompass-CX, DOVU


Innovation Factory

Founded: 2018

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Duration: 6 months

Model: Scania’s Innovation Factory is an in-house program and aims to channel ideas of employees and to give
employees hands-on experience in releasing a new product or service to the market.

Funding SEK500,000 (~£40,500)

Equity: Yes but undisclosed

Mayer Cars  (sponsored by Honda, Volvo, Hertz , NEC, Ituran & Aptiv)


Founded: 2017

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Duration: 5 months

Model: Eight startups in each cohort go through a curriculum of seminars on how to take their ideas to market in Israel and abroad.

Funding: No funding

Equity: Yes but undisclosed

Notable startups: Autofleet, Waycare


CEVT, Ericsson, Veoneer, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group and Zenuity


Founded: 2017

Location: Gotenburg, Sweden

Duration:with 6-12 months

Model: The program partner startups with venture firms, offers a collaborative space and let startup form part of a network of global startups and mentors.

Funding: No funding

Equity: 0%

Notable startup: Aurora Labs


Intelligent Mobility 

Founded: 2018

Location: London, UK

Duration: 6 months

Model: Led by Telefonica and spored by Hyundai Motor Company, Ferrovial and Stagecoach Group. The programme is also backed by the Connected Places Catapult, which is part of a UK-government-supported network of elite technology and innovation centres. The accelerator is the first British initiative to successfully bring together government, industry and startups to define the future of transport.

Funding: up to £150,000

Equity: 0%

Notable startups: LifeshareCityswift, OpenCapacity, Tomorrow's Journey


Have we missed an accelerator programme? Please get in touch if there is an accelerator we need to add. This is a growing list.