Marcus Behrendt, managing partner at BMW i Ventures, is one of the leading corporate venturing professionals in our 2024 Powerlist.

In a tough investment climate, portfolio companies are often left behind as funding dries up. But corporate venturers are better positioned to think longer term and support startups through the downturn. This is what BMW i Ventures, the CVC of the German car company, has tried to do by doing more follow-on financing rounds to keep its investments active during the down cycle.

Last year, the venture group did 18 follow-on rounds, the most it has ever done in a year. “For the first time we did significantly more follow-ons than we did new investments,” says Marcus Behrendt, managing partner at BMW i Ventures.

One sector where startups have found it hard to find financing is 3D printing, an industry that the venture team continues to support. It recently closed a fundraising round with HZG Fund Management, a German family office specialising in 3D printing investing, for US startup RLP, a developer of 3D printing for soft and stretchable products.  

“This was a company where we tried to help get contacts and really worked hard to get them this new round,” says Behrendt. He sees AI as a technology that could potentially transform the sector. Technologies that could make a splash include humanoid robots powered by AI that are deployed on the factory floor.

He also sees autonomous driving taking a leap forward with AI. Startups such as Wayve, which BMW i Ventures has not invested in, is deploying AI technology with a ‘robot brain’ that can learn from and interact with real-world environments.

“Autonomous driving suddenly becomes closer, because AI is a new approach on how to programme those cars,” says Behrendt.

Behrendt was based in Silicon Valley between 2018 and 2022 when he was partner and CEO of the unit. He has been back in his native Germany since August 2022, managing the venture group from Munich.

Powerlist cover

The Global Corporate Venturing Powerlist represents the 100
individuals spearheading the future of the corporate venturing industry.

These individuals excel in terms of their venturing approach and structure, number and quality of portfolio companies and in their contributions to the corporate venturing profession.

See the full 2024 Powerlist here.