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TOYOTA INVESTS $US100 MILLION IN TECH START-UPS

**Investments designed to bring disruptive tech to market faster**
**New venture capital subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute**
**Focus on AI, robotics, autonomous mobility, data and cloud technology**


Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is investing an initial $US100 million to launch Toyota AI Ventures, a new corporate venture capital subsidiary designed to provide early-stage financing to start-up technology companies.

TRI is launching the subsidiary with investments in three technology companies: Nauto (Silicon Valley), Intuition Robotics (Israel) and SLAMcore (Great Britian).

The new Toyota AI Ventures subsidiary will also cultivate select start-ups by offering them mentorship and support on-site at TRI's Silicon Valley headquarters.

Investment will focus on artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous mobility and data and cloud technology.

Toyota AI Ventures will offer TRI the opportunity to collaborate with talented entrepreneurs who prefer to work in a venture business environment.

"Toyota has a history of disruptive innovation in the service of mankind, moving from textile machinery to automobiles in the late 30's, to the broad electrification of the automobile with Prius in the 90's, to autonomous mobility and human assist robots," said Dr Gill Pratt, CEO of TRI.

"TRI is growing quickly, and we recognise the critical importance of expanding our collaboration with the world's brightest entrepreneurial talent. This venture is a major step towards our mission to empower talented entrepreneurs who share Toyota's commitment to enhancing the quality of human life."

Early-stage start-up investment is inherently high risk, with the potential for high reward, so the new venture will feature quick decision-making by a dedicated management team of investment professionals and entrepreneurs, operating separately from TRI's research and development operation.

Importantly, unlike venture capital funds that exclusively identify investment targets by considering unsolicited pitches by entrepreneurs, this new venture will also pursue a "call and response" model, identifying key research challenges and then supporting the creation of new companies offering to solve them.

Jim Adler, TRI's vice president of data and business development, takes the role of managing director of Toyota AI Ventures.

"We realise that we don't have all of the answers. A lot of disruptive technologies come from start-ups 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."

Initial Investments

Toyota AI Ventures represents an expansion of TRI's investment mandate and assumes TRI's positions in three start-up investments:

SLAMcore, based in London, is a team of experts in visual tracking and mapping systems, more commonly referred to as Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping (SLAM). It develops advanced algorithms designed to help technology platforms like autonomous cars, drones and augmented/virtual reality systems to simultaneously build a map of their surroundings and position themselves within it. Critically, SLAMcore approaches this challenge with a core focus on power efficiency, a crucial factor for autonomous mobility applications given the need to maximize the power available for locomotion. TRI participated in SLAMcore's seed financing in March 2017.

Based in Silicon Valley, Nauto provides a technology system, designed for professional drivers and fleet managers, that monitors drivers and the road environment to prevent collisions, improve driver behaviour, and learn from the diverse data shared across its smart cloud network. The Nauto device is packed with AI-powered sensors and mounted inside a vehicle's windscreen, where it provides powerful visual context inside and outside the vehicle and collects data that can provide meaningful insights. TRI participated in Nauto's $12 million Series A financing in August 2016.

Israel-based Intuition Robotics is a leader in the development of social companion technology, including its ElliQ active-ageing robotic companion. The company's technology is designed to improve the lives of millions of older adults by connecting them seamlessly with family and friends, making technology accessible and intuitive, and proactively promoting an active lifestyle. TRI participated in Intuition Robotics' $14 million Series A financing in May 2017.

More information on Toyota AI Ventures is available at https://toyota-ai.ventures.

About Toyota Research Institute

Toyota Research Institute is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America under the direction of Dr Gill Pratt. The company, established in 2015, aims to strengthen Toyota's research structure and has four initial mandates: 1) enhance the safety of automobiles, 2) increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, 3) translate Toyota's expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility, and 4) accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning. TRI is based in the United States, with offices in Los Altos, California, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Ann Arbor, Michigan. For more information about TRI, please visit www.tri.global.

...ends/

For more information, please contact:

Aleks Krajcer
Manager Public Affairs
Tel: (02) 9710 3994
Mob: (0433) 385 996
aleks.krajcer@toyota.com.au

Mike Breen
Manager Public Relations
Tel: (02) 9710 3341
Mob: (0418) 447 064
mike.breen@toyota.com.au

Stephen Coughlan
Product Public Relations Manager
Tel: (02) 9710-3059
Mob: (0434) 442 261
stephen.coughlan@toyota.com.au



 
IMAGES

Toyota is investing $US100 million in tech start-ups.
Toyota Research Institute CEO Dr Gill Pratt
VIDEOS
Toyota AI Ventures Interview Video