Toyota creates $100m investment pot for autonomous tech startups

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Toyota AI Ventures (TAIV), the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, has announced a new $100m (€88.8m) fund dedicated to investment in early-stage start-ups developing disruptive business models in the autonomous mobility and robotics markets, destined for Toyota.

Toyota AI Ventures launches new $100m (€88.8m) fund to discover and invest in autonomous mobility and robotics startups

Toyota AI Ventures launches new $100m (€88.8m) fund to discover and invest in autonomous mobility and robotics startups

The new “Fund II” brings the firm’s total assets under management to more than $200m (€177.7m) to invest in and support promising start-ups around the world.

Jim Adler, managing director TAIV who is also an executive advisor at Toyota Research Institute (TRI), said: “Auto manufacturers must participate in the start-up ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry. Investing in start-ups creates long-term relationships that help Toyota explore the latest innovations in mobility.”

TAIV looks for early-stage startups across a range of industries that are applying AI, data and cloud technologies to tackle important problems and create new market opportunities, and has already invested in 19 startups in less than two years. Existing investments include:

  • Elementary Robotics — developing robotics platforms to assist with automating everyday tasks
  • Intuition Robotics — creating social companion technologies using cognitive AI
  • Joby Aviation — pioneering an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft service
  • May Mobility — offering communities a Level 4 self-driving shuttle service
  • Sea Machines — building autonomous control and navigation systems for the maritime industry

With Fund II, TAIV plans to expand its search for talented entrepreneurs it can invest in as part of its mission to discover what’s next for Toyota.

“The growing interest in automated systems has created great opportunities to improve human lives using AI and next generation mobility technology,” said Dr Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and TAIV committee member. “Under Jim’s leadership, Toyota AI Ventures helps us find and invest in tomorrow’s technology leaders by bridging the gap between technology startups and the emerging mobility industry.”

“Our startups are our customers, and we strive for deep connections based on a shared vision, common values and aligned incentives,” said Jim Adler. “It’s about building relationships that last. Today’s announcement demonstrates our long-term commitment to supporting the best entrepreneurs who are creating the next generation of disruptive innovations and businesses.”

The company was founded in July 2017 as a subsidiary of TRI.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.