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With its handset business in Microsoft’s pocket, Nokia is looking for its next big business opportunity — and it may have found it in connected cars.

The Finnish tech company today announced the launch of a $100 million “Connected Car fund” managed by Nokia Growth Partners. The fund will invest in companies poised for growth in the intelligent vehicle sector, the company said.

For its smart car fund, Nokia Growth Partners will “work closely” with Nokia’s HERE connected driving platform, which Nokia didn’t sell off to Microsoft.

Nokia launched HERE last August, releasing an embedded in-dashboard navigation system, a companion app for Android and Windows Phones, and a cloud service with real-time traffic info. HERE currently employs around 6,000 Nokia staffers.

Nokia’s automotive investments will “support the growth of the ecosystem around HERE’s mapping and location products and services,” the company said in a statement.

“We believe that connected cars equipped with precise location awareness and sensor data can become powerful devices capable of helping drivers make sense of the world around them,” said HERE chief executive Michael Halbherr.

Nokia competes with three of the world’s tech titans in the smart car space. Apple recently launched its CarPlay product, which brings hands-free iOS features to drivers. Microsoft unveiled a “Windows in the Car” demo earlier this month, bringing it into direct competition with Apple’s CarPlay. And Google has its Open Automotive Alliance, a collection of automakers and tech companies focused on bringing Android to the open road.


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