Auto startup? Toyota is looking to back you with new $100 million fund

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Updated: May 2, 2019 8:47:33 PM

Toyota AI Ventures has backed 19 startups since 2017 and with the launch of the new fund, the total assets under management stand at over $200 million "to invest in and support promising startups around the world".

Toyota will also provide support to portfolio startups in terms of their product-market fit. (Image: Toyota-ai.ventures)

Corporate venture capital firms work great, particularly for startups that belong to their respective industries. For instance, Toyota, after successfully investing from its first fund of $100 million launched in 2017, is back with another $100 million fund to back early-stage startups innovating in “autonomous mobility, robotics, AI, data and cloud,” Founding Managing Director at Toyota AI Ventures Jim Adler said in a blog post on Medium.

Toyota AI Ventures has backed 19 startups since 2017 and with the launch of the new fund, the total assets under management stand at over $200 million “to invest in and support promising startups around the world,” the Silicon Valley-based fund said in a statement.

Globally, organisations such as Google(Google Ventures), Intel (Intel Capital), Qualcomm (Qualcomm Ventures), Microsoft(Microsoft Ventures) too run such funds to back startups across the world including in India. Flipkart too had announced its venture capital fund in March this year to back startups.

Large corporations have been engaging with startups through their in-house funds to attract innovative idea, IP, talent, and new technology developed by a startup.

“We’ve learned that we can only make great investments if we attract and invest in great entrepreneurs and their teams,” said Adler. However, often corporate funds back startups give more importance to their own strategic interests than startups’ financial success. “Actually, the opposite is true — financial return is a prerequisite for strategic return,” he added.

Toyota will also provide support to portfolio startups in terms of their product-market fit along with giving them access to Toyota’s technical prowess and its vast global network.

The fund’s current portfolio includes startups such as robotics platform Elementary Robotics, Intuition Robotics that creates social companion technologies using cognitive AI, electric passenger aircraft startup Joby Aviation, self-driving shuttle service May Mobility, and Sea Machines that is developing autonomous control and navigation systems for the maritime industry.

In India, Toyota co-backed auto classifieds startup Droom with $30 million in May last year. The investment was made by Toyota’s unit — Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

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