Artificial Intelligence is going to become pretty big in the next few decades, along with robotics and autonomous technology. Toyota wants to get in on the game early- but sometimes it's better to let someone with expertise handle the research and development in these particular specialized fields. For this, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has launched Toyota AI Ventures- a new corporate venture capital firm that will specialize in providing early stage financing for start-ups.
Jim Adler, TRI's vice president of data and business development, takes the role of managing director of Toyota AI Ventures.
"We realize that we don't have all of the answers. A lot of disruptive technologies come from startups and we want to help them be successful," said Adler. "One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is knowing if they're building the right product for the right market. We can help them navigate that uncertainty, and we're committed to doing so in a founder-friendly way because their success is our success."
They've started with 100 million USD, spread across three tech companies: Nauto, SLAMCore, and Intuition Robotics. Unlike traditional venture capital firms, the objective isn't purely a return on investment but rather the solving of particular challenges that Toyota will be facing in the future. It's a clever way to combine traditional venture capital principles with internal research and development, and there will no doubt be careful contracts regarding what these start-up companies produce.