Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, Inc. (TRI-AD) is launching an $800 million growth-stage investment fund called Woven Capital. Its investments will be focused on technology and business models in areas including autonomous mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity, and so-called smart cities.
Beginning in January 2021, the fund will be operated through TRI-AD’s new Woven Capital Holdings subsidiary. It will work in tandem with Toyota AI Ventures' early-stage venture capital fund, which in January 2020 was involved in the Japanese automotive group’s $394 million investment in eVTOL developer Joby Aviation.
Toyota was the main investor in Joby’s Series C funding round, which raised $590 million for the California-based company. Toyota Motor Corporation president Shigeki Tomoyama joined the Joby board.
According to TRI-AD CEO James Kuffner, the new 10-year fund will seek to make investments to contribute to the group’s existing technology programs, including the Arene open platform for developing programmable vehicles and the Automated Mapping Platform for creating and distributing high-precision maps for automated vehicles.
In a press statement, Kuffner said Woven Capital will make growth-stage investments in companies that are already part of Toyota AI Ventures' early-stage portfolio. This would suggest that the new fund may be used to step up Toyota’s stake in the eVTOL sector.
TRI-AD did not respond to FutureFlight's request for confirmation on whether the Woven Capital Fund will make further direct investments in electric-aircraft programs.