Top 50 Rising Stars 2021 continued (in alphabetical order by CVC unit): Dennis Clark, senior managing director of corporate venturing and open innovation, Honda Innovations

Dennis Clark is a senior managing director of corporate venturing and open innovation at Honda Innovations, a Silicon Valley laboratory for Honda R&D, Japan-headquartered automotive manufacturer Honda’s information technology research and development (R&D) arm.

Honda Innovations introduces novel technologies and business models for Honda through its two open innovation schemes, Honda Xcelerator and Honda Developer Studio. The unit not only partners startups but also established brands and R&D professionals in a bid to help the corporate create new products and services.

Xcelerator supports startups with funding, workspaces and mentoring, as well as access to Honda’s test vehicles and robotics prototypes, while Developer Studio serves as a resource centre and information portal for developers.

Honda Innovations concentrated on artificial intelligence, robotics, electric vehicles, aerospace, climate technology, agricultural technology and clean energy in 2020, the unit told Global Corporate Venturing, and it plans to streamline its focus on the latter three in 2021 while adding cybersecurity healthtech and life sciences to its list.

In December 2018, Honda R&D Innovations made investments in funds managed by four venture capital firms, forming partnerships with 360 Capital Partners, a European VC focused on robotics, mobility and industrial innovation, and JB Nordic Ventures, a VC fund formed by BaltCap and Japanese government-backed JBIC IG Partners.

Honda R&D also made investments in SOSV, a VC firm targeting startups in hardware, mobility, software, food and life sciences, and Yunqi Partners, a China-based VC that focuses on enterprise service, internet of things technology, robotics and mobility.

Nick Sugimoto, Honda Innovations CEO, said at the time: “Honda’s investment in venture capital firms will play a critical role in Honda Xcelerator’s support for global innovation ecosystems and innovators at all stages.

“These VC partnerships, along with our continued direct collaboration with select startups around the world, increase our ability to jumpstart new businesses and back early-stage transformative technologies.”

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.