Image credits: Toyota Motor Corp, Woven City
News Article

Toyota Creates US$800 Million Investment Fund for Innovation

By Alejandro Enríquez | Mon, 09/14/2020 - 19:30

Toyota Research Institute - Advanced Development (TRI-AD) announces an ambitious US$800 Million global growth-stage investment fund to achieve its "Mobility to Love, Safety to Live" vision. TRI-AD's investment project will also drive the creation of a new company called Woven Planet Holdings, which will include all of Toyota’s ventures regarding state-of-the-art technology development. "With diverse projects such as Arene, the Automated Mapping Platform and Woven City, the Woven Planet Holdings Group has set ambitious goals for itself and we will need a variety of partners and technologies to achieve those goals," said James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD on a statement.

Arene is Toyota's open platform developed by TRU-AD to create programmable vehicles, which includes APIs necessary to develop vehicle safety features while making the concept-to-deployment process faster. Automated Mapping Platform is another open software platform that allows companies to create and distribute high-precision maps while sharing data on automated-driving vehicles.

Woven Planet will have two operating companies, Woven CORE and Woven Alpha, along with Woven Capital as the US$800 million investment fund which will begin operations in January 2021 and will last 10 years. "Woven Capital's investments will enable us to weave together a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will deliver long-term value to our customers, stakeholders and society. Woven Capital will also enable us to make growth-stage investments in companies in the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio as they look to raise additional capital," Kuffner added.

Over the last decade Toyota has made major investments on promising mobility startups. In 2017, Toyota invested ¥40 million (US$352,982) in SkyDrive, a leading developer of urban air mobility solutions, including delivery drones and electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. Three years later, SkyDrive announced the first-ever manned flight with a flying car in Japan.

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The Japanese automaker is also expanding its collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) on Toyota's Mobility Services Platform. This platform will provide an ecosystem for Toyota engineers across the world to keep developing data-driven mobility services through Toyota's cloud-connected vehicles.

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Toyota is aware technology bets work better when diversified. At TRI-AD, the center focus remains "Mobility for All," improving mobility and advanced safety systems worldwide. The center also oversees Toyota's Woven City, Toyota's ambitious smart city project. Interestingly enough, all developments are also conducted under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: 17 goals focused on making development sustainable for people, the economy and the environment.

Alejandro Enríquez Alejandro Enríquez Journalist and Industry Analyst