Toyota AI Ventures (TAIV) announced its second $100 million investment commitment – Toyota AI Ventures Fund II – dedicated to supporting early-stage autonomous mobility and robotics startups. Following the Toyota corporate’s venture capital firm’s initial $100 million in 2017, the group’s total asset investments now total $200 million.
TAIV isn’t just giving the money to startups in the hope that the potentially successful mobility disruptors will do well. Toyota uses TAIV to stay ahead of the pack as the world of mobility continues to evolve. Beyond its financial investments in new ventures, TAIV provides resources and other support. The startups can take advantage of Toyota’s vast technical expertise and assets and its worldwide network. TAIV also assists as the companies bring their products and technologies closer to market launch.
“Auto manufacturers must participate in the startup ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry,” said Jim Adler, managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. “Investing in startups creates long-term relationships that help Toyota explore the latest innovations in mobility.”
The first TAIV investment fund backed and continues to manage 19 startups, including Joby Aviation, an electric air taxi, whose investors include Intel Capital and JetBlue Technology Ventures as well as TAIV.
Toyota AI Ventures Fund II will be used to invest in new startups, with an emphasis on talented entrepreneurs that apply A.I., big data, and cloud technologies to create market opportunities for Toyota by tackling challenging mobility problems. Vehicle autonomy is the fund’s primary focus, using the term “vehicle” in the loose sense to mean anything that helps people get from place to place.
“The growing interest in automated systems has created great opportunities to improve human lives using A.I. and next-generation mobility technology,” said Dr. Gill Pratt, chief executive officer at TRI and Toyota AI Ventures investment 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.”
In a post in Medium in which he expounded on the new fund and the concept of un-bundling mobility, Adler wrote, “More than just additional capital, Toyota AI Ventures’ Fund II is a recommitment to the entrepreneurs creating the businesses that are fueling the emerging mobility ecosystem. We’re not sure where the [un]bundling lines will be drawn, but we do know that startups will be the ones drawing them. They always have.”