Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com.
Toyota’s first dedicated venture fund invites early-stage startups, building innovative solutions to improve the quality of life in urban communities, to apply for up to $2 million in VC funding.
Toyota AI Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm dedicated to helping discover what’s next for Toyota, launched a global “call for innovation” today at CES® 2020 to find and fund early-stage startups building solutions for smart and connected cities. The call invites qualified entrepreneurs from around the world to apply for an opportunity to receive between $500,000 and $2 million in funding from Toyota AI Ventures.
Toyota AI Ventures will partner with Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) and Toyota Research Institute (TRI) to identify opportunities for startups to collaborate. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, TRI-AD is part of Toyota’s newly announced Woven City, a state-of-the-art connected city being built on the site of the Higashi-Fuji plant in Susono, Japan. The Woven City will serve as a test bed for innovative ideas and technologies from Toyota and its partners.
“Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas today, and that trend is expected to increase in coming decades,” said Jim Adler, founding managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. “As cities become more populated and dense, technology has a key role to play in addressing challenges like congestion, housing shortages, and pollution. We see cities as a platform for innovation, and we’re searching for startups building real-world, scalable solutions to improve the quality of life in urban communities, now and in the future.”
“TRI-AD is very excited to collaborate with Toyota AI Ventures on this new smart and connected cities call for innovation,” said Dr. James Kuffner, Chief Executive Officer of TRI-AD and Senior Fellow of Toyota Motor Corporation. “The livability and sustainability of our planet’s future urban centers will require many forms of new technology to be developed, and Toyota intends to work with partners to realize President Toyoda’s vision for Woven City.”
Toyota AI Ventures will exhibit about the call for innovation at CES 2020 from January 7-10, 2020 as part of its participation in Toyota’s booth in the Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall, Booth #6919. Toyota AI Ventures’ exhibit will also feature three of its portfolio companies: Intuition Robotics, May Mobility, and Perceptive Automata.
The call for innovation is available to startups in the areas of artificial intelligence, cloud, data, autonomy, mobility, and robotics that have: (1) raised less than $3 million in funding; (2) can demonstrate a working prototype; and (3) have a viable business model for applying their solution to smart, connected cities and delivering real value to customers.
Toyota AI Ventures is particularly interested in solutions that address the following:
- Improving accessibility and mobility for all, including autonomous and personal vehicles
- Reducing congestion and pollution through electric and shared mobility services
- Increasing efficiency through smarter home and building construction
- Assisting people with everyday tasks and personal care
It marks Toyota AI Ventures’ second call for innovation. Conducted in conjunction with TRI, the first call in 2018 focused on mobile manipulation technologies for robotics, and led to an investment in Elementary Robotics. To date, Toyota AI Ventures has invested in a total of 27 portfolio companies in the United States, Israel, and the United Kingdom, including Boxbot, Bumblebee Spaces, Joby Aviation, Moodify, Nauto, Revel, and SLAMcore.
The call for innovation is open now through April 30, 2020, and submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Startups that apply will be evaluated on the quality of their team, technology, business model, and go-to-market strategy, and will be subject to standard diligence before any investment is made.
Entrepreneurs who meet the criteria and are looking for venture funding are encouraged to learn more and apply on the Toyota AI Ventures website.