Toyota AI Ventures, the venture capital arm of Toyota, has announced the launch of Fund II, a $100 million fund that will invest in early-stage startups that are developing disruptive technology and business models in autonomous mobility and robotics.
In a press release, Toyota AI Ventures said the fund will be led by Jim Adler, founding managing director and executive advisor at the Toyota Research Institute. The unit was founded in July of 2017 and has since invested in 19 startups. With Fund II, the venture capital firm will have more than $200 million invested in startups around the world.
“Auto manufacturers must participate in the startup ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry,” said Adler in the press release. “Investing in startups creates long-term relationships that help Toyota explore the latest innovations in mobility.”
According to the company, the investments are focused on early-stage startups that are applying artificial intelligence (AI), data and cloud technologies to address problems and create new market opportunities. Currently, Toyota AI Ventures is invested in startups including Elementary Robotics, which makes robots to automate everyday tasks; Intuition Robotics, which is working on social companion technologies; Joby Aviation, the electric vertical takeoff and landing startup; May Mobility, which offers a self-driving shuttle service; and Sea Machines, which is bringing automation to the maritime industry. The company said the new fund will expand its search for entrepreneurs to help the company determine 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, chief executive officer at TRI and a 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.”