BMW i Ventures Leads Series B Funding Round of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Nanocoating Technology Company actnano Inc.
Although the official home of the auto industry in the U.S. is still considered to be Detroit, there is still plenty of automotive innovation happening in other parts of the country, including dozens of companies working on autonomous driving technology, batteries, electric vehicles and more.
As a result, Silicon Valley-based BMW iVentures, which is the venture capital arm of the automaker, continues to make investments in promising U.S. startups around the country working on advanced technology for the auto industry and beyond.
The latest investment from BMW iVentures is a Cambridge, Massachusetts company actnano Inc, which is developing next-generation nanocoatings that provide protection for electronics across the automotive and consumer electronics markets.
BMW i Ventures announced on Tuesday it led the latest Series B financing round of actnano. Also participating in the round are existing investors Swiss-based Emerald Technology Ventures, Material Impact and new investor, Hella Ventures.
actnano's nanoGUARD (ANG) technology is a thin "nanostructure" that's sprayed directly on electronic/electrical components. The coating acts as an insulation barrier to protect the underlying component against various environmental contaminants such as water, condensation, humidity, and salt. As the auto industry moves towards electrification, the nanocoatings offer a higher level of protection for a vehicle's various sub-systems.
Actnano said its ANG coatings have been tested in many environmental conditions ranging from high temperatures and humidity to complete submersion in salt water.
For a modern EV packed with electronics that's cable of autonomous driving, the coating provides an extra layer of protection for the critical processors and onboard sensor suite. The electrical insulation properties of the nanoGUARD coatings allow for complete printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) protection from the elements.
"The proliferation of electronics in the car, especially with the broader industry push toward autonomous driving and electrification, will necessitate greater protection of mission-critical electronic components in the vehicle," said Kasper Sage, Managing Partner at BMW i Ventures. "actnano's nanocoatings have proven to be superior in performance and bring distinct cost-advantages compared to traditional alternatives, making it a game-changer to secure generations of vehicles to come."
Unlike traditional electronics coatings, actnano's nanocoatings allow for electrical connections to be made without trapping heat in high power components or interfering with digital signals during data transfer. Therefore it can be applied to connectors and antennas, as well as underneath large components and processors, eliminating the need for masking, according to actnano.
The technology offers significant cost advantages over existing alternatives and is easy to apply in the manufacturing process, according to actnano. Once applied to electrical components during the manufacturing process, the coating dries within 30 seconds.
actnano's nanocoatings are currently deployed in over 2 million production vehicles, including 80% of EVs sold in North America, as well as many of the world's leading consumer devices, according to CEO Taymur Ahmad.
"Our goal is to install nanoGUARD in every vehicle in the world, help eliminate tragic accidents, and save lives," said Ahmad. "BMW i Ventures' commitment to sustainability and user safety makes us extremely excited to partner with them and grow within the mobility sector."
actnano said its nanoGUARD coating is produced with sustainable materials and doesn't contain any harmful fluorine or halogen compounds, which are typically found in automotive coatings.
actnano plans to use the new funds to expand its global sales and technical teams, as well as ramp up production to meet the significant increase in demand for their product.
The investment from BMW in actnano is one of several major investments this year via its venture capital arm.
In February, BMW i Ventures announced a $15 million investment in Vendia, a company that developed a data and code-sharing platform that one day might be used for managing the massive amounts of data generated by connected and autonomous vehicles.
In June, BMW i Ventures an investment in Kodiak Robotics, Inc., a developer of self-driving technology for long-haul trucks.
In October, BMW i Ventures announced an investment in Michigan-based battery startup Our Next Energy Inc. ("ONE"), a company working to develop lower cost and longer range batteries for electric vehicles.
BMW i Ventures has also invested in many other promising companies working on advanced mobility and related technologies. The firm's portfolio includes May Mobility, Nauto, GenXComm, Solid Power, DSP Concepts and EV charging operator ChargePoint.
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