Four of France’s largest companies have set up a €30m ($40m) corporate venturing fund to invest in sustainable transport start-ups. State-owned rail company SNCF, oil major Total, mobile phone operator Orange and car maker PSA Peugeot Citroën founded Ecomobilité Ventures, which will be headed by SNCF’s Fabienne Herlaut. Manoelle Lepoutre, executive vice-president of sustainable development and the environment at Total, said: "This is the first time that four major market-leaders have pooled their expertise to support innovative young enterprises. It’s a novel way of driving innovation in the area of sustainable mobility and enabling the development of new, more efficient solutions for our customers." The venture will take minority stakes in European start-ups offering technologies, services and products around transport.  Patrice-Henry Duchene, head of sustainable development at PSA Peugeot Citroën, said the fund would help the company move beyond making automobiles. Vivek Badrinath, executive vice-president of enterprise communication services at Orange, said: "Information and communication technologies are a vital lever for optimizing travel and energy resource management. Orange has been focusing on these issues for several years through a program dedicated entirely to smart cities." Bernard Emsellem, executive manager for Ecomobility at SNCF, said: "The creation of Ecomobilité Ventures is fully aligned with SNCF’s strategy, which is to link different modes of transportation in order to offer our clients end-to-end solutions." SNCF through Ecomobility Partners set up in October 2008 has previously backed car sharing (VULog), carpooling (Greencove), electric cars (Lumeneo), photovoltaic (Coruscant), guidance for the visually impaired (Phitech) and last kilometre urban logistics (Urban-Cab).

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