New Toyota fund to invest in autonomous mobility, robotics

May 07, 2019 //By Rich Pell
New Toyota fund to invest in autonomous mobility, robotics
Toyota AI Ventures (Los Altos, CA), a venture capital subsidiary of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), has announced that it has launched a new $100 million fund dedicated to investing in early-stage startups in the autonomous mobility and robotics markets.

The new fund, named Fund II, brings the organization's total assets under management to more than $200 million to invest in and support promising startups around the world.

"Auto manufacturers must participate in the startup ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry," says Jim Adler, managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. "Investing in startups creates long-term relationships that help Toyota explore the latest innovations in mobility."

Toyota AI Ventures 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. Existing investments include the companies:

  • 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 takeoff 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, says the firm, it will expand its search for talented entrepreneurs to invest in as part of its mission "to help 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," says Dr. Gill Pratt, chief executive officer at TRI and Toyota AI Ventures investment committee member. "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."

In addition to offering capital, says the organization, it partners with portfolio companies to provide ongoing support and resources to enable their long-term success, including assistance with product-market fit, and an opportunity to connect with Toyota's technical expertise and global network.

Toyota AI Ventures was founded in July 2017 as a subsidiary of TRI and has thus far invested in a portfolio of 19 startups

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