Nokia may have finally offloaded its device and services division to Microsoft after its $7.2 billion deal  was completed last month, but it is starting May with an interesting announcement: it is launching a fund that will invest $100 million in connected car startups.

The ‘Connected Car Fund’ fund will be managed by  Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) and “will identify and invest in companies whose innovations will be important for a world of connected and intelligent vehicles,” the Finish company says.

The fund will be closely aligned with Nokia’s HERE mapping division (which it didn’t sell to Microsoft), with the aim of finding companies and technology that “support the growth of the ecosystem around HERE’s mapping and location products and services.”

“For the last few years there has been a surge in innovation that has brought technological advances leading to safer, cleaner, increasingly connected, intelligent and more affordable vehicles. Vehicles are becoming a new platform for technology adoption very similar to phones or tablets,” said Paul Asel, Partner at Nokia Growth Partners.

While Nokia dispensed with a sizeable portion of its consumer-facing business in its deal with Microsoft, HERE was one notable unit that stayed put. Nokia did license HERE patents for Windows Phone devices and features phones for the next four years, but the group — which employs around 6,000 staff — could be an important revenue-generator for the newly streamlined Nokia business.

Nokia is one of a number of tech companies that is battling to bring its technology and services into automobiles. Apple launched its ‘CarPlay’ solution, a rebranded take on its ‘iOS in the Car’ initiative, last month after it partnered with Ferrari, Mercedes Benz and Volvo. The company’s mapping service plays a key part in the solution, which will include aftermarket installations.

Google is also in the race, and it announced the Open Automotive Alliance in January. The group is designed to “accelerate” innovation in the automotive space and it counts Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia as early members.

Apple has also previously inked deals with a number of car manufacturers for Siri Eyes-Free mode, including General Motors, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Audi and Hyundai. The service lets drivers interact with their iPhone using only their voice.

Headline image via S_E / Shutterstock