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Toyota Motor rebrands, expands venture fund to include climate change

Jun 3, 2021

By Paul Lienert

(Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp is rebranding its corporate investment arm as Toyota Ventures and adding two early-stage funds, including one focused on investing in startups developing solutions for climate change and carbon neutrality.

The Japanese automaker is beefing up its four-year-old investment arm, formerly known as Toyota AI Ventures, with the addition of the $150 million Frontier Fund and the $150 million Climate Fund, Toyota said on Thursday, boosting total assets under management to more than $500 million.

The Frontier Fund will continue to invest in such areas as artificial intelligence, automated vehicles, cloud computing and robotics, while expanding its purview to include smart cities, digital health, fintech, materials and energy, the company said.

The Climate Fund will be focused on technologies and companies working on accelerating carbon dioxide reduction.

“We think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of disruptive innovation in these areas,” especially at startup companies, said Jim Adler, founding managing director of Toyota Ventures.

“Toyota wants us to look outside, into the startup community where companies are chasing the same kinds of goals as Toyota – lowering the carbon footprint and getting to carbon-neutral.”

Toyota’s venture arm, since its founding in 2017, has invested in nearly 40 startups in a variety of sectors, from e-scooters to self-driving shuttles.

The venture group also has co-invested in several startups with the venture arms of BMW AG, Hyundai Motor Co, Airbus SE and Intel Corp.

Toyota has a second, newer venture arm called Woven Capital, which works with the company’s Woven Planet team on future transportation strategy and investments.

Adler said Toyota Ventures will continue to focus its investments on early-stage companies, while Woven Capital aims to fund more mature growth-stage companies.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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