NGK Spark Plug, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automotive spark plugs, announced a new $100 million fund to invest in startups and find potential merger and acquisition deals. The fund was launched with Pegasus Tech Ventures, the "venture capital as a service" firm that has also worked with corporations like Sega Sammy Holdings, Asus and Aisin Seiki to launch venture funds.
While best known for its automotive components, NGK Spark Plug also manufacturers many other hardware components, including for semiconductor production equipment, cutting tools, medical equipment and industrial ceramics. In recent years, the Nagoya, Japan-headquartered company has begun focusing on new technologies, like solid-state electric vehicle batteries.
NGK Spark Plug’s new corporate venture fund is an opportunity to work with startups and expand into new businesses, said Anis Uzzaman, general partner and chief executive officer of Pegasus Tech Ventures.
The company is looking for software and hardware startups in the United States, Europe, Israel and Asia and will focus on three themes: smart health, decentralized utilities and smart mobility.
"The selection of those areas is based on global trends and data. The global rate of poverty is decreasing and more people need healthy food, clean water, access to energy, mobility and easy access to healthcare," Uzzaman told TechCrunch in an email.
"NGK is using its material and sensors expertise, as well as its sales channels in automotive, to establish systems and solutions to address major pain points in those areas."
For smart mobility, this means tech like charging solutions, solid state batteries, ADAS systems, service platforms and power inverters. In decentralized utilities, NGK Spark Plug will look at food tech and agriculture startups, with the goal of creating safer and more sustainable food supplies and reducing pollution. It is also interested in air purification technology.
The fund will invest in early to late-stage startups, with check sizes ranging from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few million dollars. NGK Spark Plug plans to work closely with portfolio companies, helping bring their tech to maturation, investing in them at multiple stages and remaining open to potential mergers and acquisitions, Uzzaman added.