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Mobility-Focused VC Firm Closes $76M Fund Aimed at Next-Gen Transportation

August 17, 2023

Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 16, 2023
Pete Bigelow

Assembly Ventures — a Detroit-founded global venture capital firm focused on the mobility sector and funded by some metro Detroit business luminaries — closed a $76 million fund, it said Wednesday.

Economic headwinds have dampened the overall global venture market. But Assembly Ventures bucked the broader conditions with its focus on transportation technology amid a national push to re-establish domestic supply chains and reduce dependency on China during an electrified era.

That approach resonated with investors, said Jessica Robinson, co-founder and partner with the firm.

“When you think about all the focus in North America around reindustrialization … we think it’s better to think about opportunities for the West,” she told Automotive News. “You see that manifest in the deals we’ve done.”

Assembly Ventures was founded in 2020 and has four companies in its portfolio. Those include Our Next Energy, a Novi-based battery-tech startup that has removed nickel and cobalt from its battery chemistries.

Assembly Ventures counts strategic corporate entities such as Stellantis Ventures, Arbor Bancorp Inc. and Renaissance Global Logistics among its investors. Individual investors include mortgage and real estate mogul Dan Gilbert, former General Motors Co. executive Tony Posawatz, former Ford Motor Co. executive Joe Hinrichs, ex-Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle and others, the firm said.

The $76 million Assembly Fund I brings total assets under management to $94 million. The firm has offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley and is in the process of opening one in Berlin to advise on European investments.

The firm intends to make 15-20 investments within the new fund, Robinson said, and the new office in particular will help vet startups in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Assembly Ventures will further spotlight its increased German presence next month, when it oversees programming for a portion of the IAA Mobility 2023 programming in Munich.

Though it concentrates in two geographic areas of traditional automotive strength, Assembly Ventures holds a self-described “unconventional” view on transportation and is particularly interested in the movement of data and energy, as well as people and goods, said Robinson, a former Zipcar and Ford executive.

“We talk about getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible, and while that’s true, that’s not the full story in mobility,” she said. “The industry’s understanding of mobility and value creation has evolved.”

The fund’s closing comes amid diminishing investments in new funds. Sixteen first-time funds secured capital in the first quarter of 2023, according to financial research firm PitchBook, down from 181 year-over-year.