Autotech Ventures Sees Itself as Talent Scout for Auto Startups

AutoTech Ventures LLC wants to be the talent scout for startups reinventing ground transportation. The venture capital firm, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised about $75 million to bankroll early-stage technologies enabling autonomous driving, improved cybersecurity in cars, entertainment systems and other automotive next big things.

Auto-parts makers and component suppliers, including Denso Corp., Mahle GmbH. and Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd., were among the investors in the firm, founded last year. As limited partners, they’ll get a share of AutoTech Ventures’ returns. “We aren’t in it for financial return — it’s all strategic,” said Tony Cannestra, director of corporate venture at Japan-based automotive components company Denso. He said the number of tech startups in transportation has more than doubled since he began investing in such companies almost five years ago, making it harder to hone in on the potential winners.