Startups in North Texas and around the world are developing ideas in the smart and connected cities space have a new opportunity for funding from Toyota. The automotive giant is rolling out a call for innovation via its Toyota AI Ventures arm by offering founders the opportunity to get their solutions in front of the venture capital subsidiary team.
The call for innovation is an opportunity for startups using AI, data, cloud, autonomy, mobility, and/or robotics technologies that improve urban innovation to receive between $500,000 and $2 million in funding from Toyota AI Ventures. The Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) and Toyota Research Institute (TRI) also partnered for the program, so chosen startups could collaborate with those two divisions as well.
The basic requirements for startups seeking capital through the program include a viable business model, a working prototype, and having no more than $3 million in outside funding. Interested startups and founders can apply for potential investment on the Toyota AI Ventures website.
According to a Toyota AI Ventures news post, while the investment group isn’t getting away from vetting startups that reach out or are referred to them, the call to action is an effort to “more precisely signal” to the type of startup it is looking for as well as create a catalyst to spur innovation.
The call to innovation isn’t a pitch competition, though. Toyota views it more as an opportunity to uncover qualified startups that it can screen and later potentially invest in—there’s not a set number of startups could receive capital through the program. The vetting process looks at a team, technology, business model, go-to-market strategy, and impact the solution will have on improving quality of life, among other factors, to determine qualified startups.
In its post, Toyota AI Ventures pointed to the fact that more than half of people worldwide live in urban areas, with the number forecast to grow to 68 percent by 2050. That brings growing challenges, such as traffic congestion and pollution, so the call to action is a way to find and fund early stage startups looking to mitigate the issues of urban sprawl.
Areas of interest for Toyota AI Ventures include: improving mobility for all including autonomous vehicles, reducing congestion and pollution through electric and shared mobility services, increasing efficiency through smarter construction, implementing AI and robotics into daily life, and using IoT data and analytics to drive planning decisions.
The call for innovation will last through April 30, 2020, with applications reviewed on a rolling basis and subject to Toyota AI Ventures’ rigorous review standards.
Watch this: Toyota’s ‘Call for Innovation’
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