BMW i Ventures, the venture capital arm of the BMW Group, has acquired a minority stake in Munich-based partner Kinexon GmbH, a software development firm that devises solutions for connected devices and the internet of things (IoT) in industry 4.0. BMW and Kinexon have already been working together for several years, with a focus on advancing the digitalization of the global decentralized BMW production network.
BMW and Kinexon have agreed not to disclose any details relating to the acquisition, but the objective of the investment is to continue developing the IPS-i software platform, which has been in use within the BMW Group since 2017. The IPS-i platform is currently operating in ten BMW production plants, and is the basis of numerous digitalization projects. A core component of IPS-i is its array of locating systems, which use a variety of position data including RFID and GPS to track the positions and locations of thousands of individual parts and components within a production plant. The underlying goal is to ensure that the necessary parts are where they need to be in relation to the assembly line and the tools needed to install them, when they need to be there. In short, Kinexon’s technologies are used to capture, analyze, automate, and optimize manufacturing and logistical processes.
“Automotive production at the BMW Group is a lot like top-flight sport in that it’s about high-performance processes. The real-time locating platform IPS-i forms the backbone for fully digitalising our production. It’s an innovative operating system that makes our highly complex manufacturing processes transparent and raises efficiency in production even further. We are now intensifying our well-established, long-standing partnership with Kinexon by acquiring a stake in them,” said Milan Nedeljković, the BMW management board member responsible for overseeing production. “Together, we want to set new standards in digital production steering.”
Kinexon’s realtime precision locating systems are also in use in sports leagues like FIFA and the NBA, where they are used to record and subsequently analyze the movements of athletes on the field or court. The data allows for a new analytical view of what’s going on, with tactics, movement patterns, position data, and personal performance all incorporated to make the proverbial picture even clearer. According to Kinexon, more than 400 teams and leagues around the world rely on the technology.
“Our vision is of a world in perfect flow. Wherever assets, people or operations are in motion, we can improve and automate the underlying processes, ” explained Dr. Oliver Trinchera, co-founder and co-CEO of Kinexon. “The investment round will provide us with growth capital to scale and further expand our leading operating system for process automation. We also plan to expand geographically to meet the growing needs of our customers across the world.”
Headquartered in Munich, Germany, Kinexon employs a staff of over 300 and also has an office in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to the BMW Group, Kinexon also works with Continental AG, the German multinational automotive parts manufacturing firm known for making tires, belts, brakes, and a myriad of other automotive components.
The Series A funding round in which BMW i Ventures participated was led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and raised a total of $130,000,000, which the company will use to scale and expand.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]