Exclusive: L Marks partners with BMW and expands to Japan

London-based early-stage investor L Marks has announced its expansion to Japan, where it will work with automotive giant BMW.

The company will be looking for investment opportunities and target major Japanese corporate brands or startups driving innovation in the tech scene through a tech accelerator programme.

When asked what he thought of the expansion, Daniel Saunders, Chief executive of L Marks, said: “Japan is a hugely exciting market for us with some of the strongest corporate brands in the world and a large network of innovative technology startups.

“We see our agreement with BMW as the first of many innovation programmes that we hope to deliver in Japan, a country with an already established history of automotive and technological innovation,” he added.  

Stuart Marks, founder and chairman of L Marks, also spoke about the news: “This is an exciting new market for us, and whilst we’ve previously had Japanese startups apply to our UK programmes, we’re looking forward to accessing more of the fantastic talent and solutions Japan has to offer.

“Giving these entrepreneurs access to the leadership of BMW Group Financial Services Japan and to relevant functional teams will greatly accelerate their product development and business growth,” he added.  

L Marks’ first customer in Japan is BMW financial services. They will join forces to launch the “BMW Innovation Lab 2018”.

The lab will be a chance to scout out potential companies and entrepreneurs for BMW Financial Services and L Marks to partner with.

The lab features a 10 week programme for startups which are disrupting their respective fields, or creating new groundbreaking tech that would benefit BMW consumers.

Participants will receive mentorship from the BMW Group Financial Services Japan leadership team, a working space in Tokyo headquarters and access to potential investment.

Mike Wetherell, representative director, president and CEO at BMW Group Financial Services Japan, said: “This programme is all about finding new ideas and new ways to think. While the solutions from this Innovation Lab should target our customers and dealers in Japan, we invite startups from all around the world to participate in this journey of innovation.”

Since it was founded in 2012, L Marks has worked with 137 startups through its programmes and partnered with best-known global brands including BMW, Arsenal FC, British Airways.