Toyota Motor Corp. is enhancing its efforts to invest in early-stage startups in the AI and mobility industries.
The automaker said that Toyota AI Ventures, which is the venture-capital arm of the Toyota Research Institute, will open a second $100 million fund dedicated to pursuing these investments. After launching its first fund with $100 million in July 2017, it has now $200 million in capital commitments.
Jim Adler, MD of Toyota AI Ventures said, “We are just seeing a tremendous amount of opportunity, especially as the mobility landscape evolves.” He added, “We wanted to make sure we had the dry powder to find more great startups.”
Till date, the firm has created a diverse portfolio among its 19 investments in the first fund. Early-stage startups like self-driving shuttle provider May Mobility, electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing company Joby Aviation, and cognitive AI firm Intuition Robotics are among its initial investments.
Jim said, “We’re seeing more in micromobility as business models evolve and bifurcate, and we’re seeing hardware-as-a-service.”
Adler says, he and his team vetted more than 1,500 companies while whittling the number that received investment to 19. What has changed, perhaps, over the past two years is the makeup of the entrepreneurs pitching Toyota AI Ventures.