Toyota Motor, the world’s best-selling automaker, continues to invest in innovative carbon-neutral technologies. Its standalone venture capital firm Toyota AI Ventures recently announced that it will be adding more than $300 million to its assets under management via two early-stage funds, one of which will be exclusively focused on the carbon-neutral space.
The Los Altos, Calif.-based VC firm is also rebranding itself to Toyota Ventures as it aims to expand its focus beyond the areas of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and robotics.
The new $150 million fund, Toyota Ventures Climate Fund, will invest in early-stage startups that develop new technologies and strategies to accelerate carbon dioxide reduction from the planet. The second $150 million fund, Toyota Ventures Frontier Fund, will expand the company’s current focus to include fintech, smart cities, digital health, materials, and energy.
These two funds bring the VC firm’s total assets to $500 million as it seeks to add disruptive tech and climate startups to its existing portfolio of 38 companies. Toyota Ventures was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Toyota Research Institute with the goal to help startups bring disruptive technologies and strategies to market quickly.
The new climate fund will specifically sponsor startups in the areas of renewable energy, hydrogen production, storage, and transport, as well as carbon capture and storage.
“At Toyota, we’re taking a diverse science-driven approach to addressing climate change and offering people many ways to lower their own carbon footprint,” said Gill Pratt, chief scientist of Toyota Motor Corporation, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, and board member of Toyota Ventures. “Part of our strategy includes partnering with talented entrepreneurs from around the world to help accelerate innovation in the startup community. We are tremendously excited about tapping into that talent through the Climate Fund.”
The VC firm leverages Toyota’s technical expertise and global resources to help launch early-stage startups. In addition, it provides companies with strategic support, operational guidance in product and business development, marketing, business coaching, and fundraising.
Toyota Ventures is also dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the firm and in the broader VC industry via The Diversity VC Standard. The assessment, consultation, and certification initiative launched in September 2020 by 15 leading VC funds from Europe and Canada to streamline VC industry practices so that funding can be available to underrepresented founders. It also strives to create an all-inclusive environment and ecosystem in the VC industry.
Among its current investments are Recogni, an AI platform for autonomous vehicles to provide higher performance and better power efficiency, Revel, a platform to electrify cities via charging EV stations, shared electric mopeds and cars, as well as Skip, the designer of a micro-mobility network for cities including custom vehicle hardware, software, and ground operations.
“Toyota Ventures has been an incredible partner to Revel from the beginning and has gone above and beyond to support our growth, even during challenging times,” said Frank Reig, co-founder, and CEO of Revel. “It kept its commitments and funded us during the height of the first COVID-19 lockdown, which helped us get through the worst days of the pandemic and come out the other side. It also introduced us to internal teams it thought would help our core business and new ventures. I can’t say enough good things about working with Toyota Ventures.”