Bridgestone Europe and Iris Capital have announced a deal to investigate and invest in new mobility services and digital technologies across Europe, the Middle-East and Africa.
In the face of emerging economic and technological opportunities, especially with regard to mobility, Bridgestone says it is transforming from a tyre producer into a mobility solutions leader.
The deal with Iris Capital – a leading European venture capital firm – comes as Bridgestone announced it was buying TomTom Telematics for €910 million (£800m).
Bridgestone said that the transaction, which is due to be completed in the second quarter of this year (subject to regulatory approvals, the consultation with TomTom employee representative bodies, and approval of TomTom’s shareholders) will create "a fleet solutions powerhouse".
For its part, Iris Capital has been investing in digital companies that are disrupting their industries since 1986.
As new mobility and digital transformation are key topics for the whole automotive industry, Bridgestone and Iris Capital will work together to support the entrepreneurs with Bridgestone’s industrial expertise and Iris Capital’s experience as funder of start-ups such as Careem, Mojio, Mister Auto, Unu Motors and Cobi.
Paolo Ferrari, president and CEO of Bridgestone EMEA and executive vice president of the Bridgestone Group, said that the company has invested heavily in its digital transformation and in particular in its Digital Garage; an open innovation platform, where it has built new capabilities in data collection from sensors and RFiD, platforms, and analytics, and pioneered a range of digital solutions and applications such as Mobox, FleetPulse and Bridgestone Connect.
He continued: “This corporate venture partnership with Iris Capital will allow us to accelerate our strategy while supporting start-ups and exploring new and disruptive models in the mobility eco-system.”
Antoine Garrigues, managing partner of Iris Capital, added: “In 2012, we’ve successfully created a European multi-corporate VC model with the strong support of corporate champions.
“The past years, we’ve expanded the success of this model with selected new corporate partners and we are very proud to count Bridgestone as an industry expert to enrich IrisNext’s mission.
“Our mission is to identify and fuel promising entrepreneurs and to help them grow and scale their businesses across Europe and beyond. We’re now particularly increasing and sharpening our focus on new mobility services and technologies with our partner Bridgestone.”