Toyota launches $100 for mobility and Robotics start ups
Toyota AI Ventures — the venture capital subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute, Japan automaker Toyota’s R&D arm — debuted in July 2017 with a $100 million fund focused on early-stage investments in AI, autonomous mobility, robotics, data, and the cloud. Since then, it’s provided cash to startups like self-driving shuttle company May Mobility, maritime self sufficient vessel software program and system provider Sea Machines, lidar developer Blackmore, and 15 others, some of which have gone on to raise large follow-on funding. Air taxi firm Joby Aviation, for instance, secured $100 million last February, and Palo Alto, California-based fleet monitoring organization Nauto raised $159 million from Greylock Partners and Softbank’s Vision Fund.
Now, to cement its dedication to cross-industry AI and computer mastering startups, Toyota AI Ventures is launching Fund II, a new $100 million fund targeting self sufficient mobility and robotics markets. The announcement comes after chipmaker Qualcomm said it would invest $100 million in AI through Qualcomm Ventures, its corporate venture fund, and following the launch of Baidu’s AI and internet $500 million growth-stage fund Baidu Ventures.
“The growing interest in automatic systems has created greater opportunites to enhance human lives with the use of AI and next-generation mobility technology,” said chief executive officer at Toyota Research Institute and Toyota AI Ventures committee member Dr. Gill Pratt. “Toyota AI Ventures helps us find and make investments in tomorrow’s technology leaders by way of bridging the gap between tech startups and the emerging mobility industry.”
Pratt says that in addition to capital, Fund II portfolio groups will get entry to ongoing assist and resources from Toyota, which include training from its corporate liaison group and an probability to join with its world community of 350,000 employees, affiliates, and partners.
“Our startups are our customers, and we try to build deep connections based on a shared vision, common values, and aligned incentives,” delivered Toyota AI Ventures managing director Jim Adler. “It’s about building relationships that last. Today’s announcement is a demonstration of our long-term commitment to supporting the best entrepreneurs who are creating the next technology of disruptive improvements and businesses.”
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The launch of Toyota AI Ventures’ Fund II comes as the variety of seed-stage AI and machine learning companies in the U.S. declines, corresponding with a upward in the proportion of early and late-stage rounds. A challenge spherical analysis by way of Crunchbase observed that greenback extent into seed-stage offers in 2017 dipped slightly from 2016, from approximately $515 million in 2016 to $415 million in 2017.
That’s not necessarily reason for panic, though. According to a current report published by means of PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights, U.S.-based AI organizations raised a collective $9.33 billion in 2018. And a dip in offers activity (from 533 startups funded in 2017 to 466 in 2018), AI and machine learning funding jumped 72% year-over-year.