Toyota Research launches $800m investment fund in move to Woven Planet

Toyota Research launches $800m investment fund in move to Woven Planet

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD) has set up a global investment fund called Woven Capital as part of its change of name to Woven Planet.

The $800m (€676m) fund will invest in global companies through Toyota AI Ventures and other investment funds developing autonomous mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity, and smart cities.

Woven Capital will be a subsidiary of  Woven Planet Holdings, which will begin operations in January 2021, alongside Woven Core and Woven Alpha. Woven Core will develop, implement and scale automated driving technologies,  while Woven Alpha will explore new business opportunities and incubate innovative projects that go beyond today’s Toyota Motor business, such as Woven City, the Arene autonomous vehicle softweare platform and the Automated Mapping Platform (AMP).

“With diverse projects such as Arene, the Automated Mapping Platform and Woven City, the Woven Planet Holdings Group has set ambitious goals for itself, and we will need a variety of partners and technologies to achieve those goals,” said James Kuffner, CEO of TRI-AD. “Woven Capital’s investments will enable us to weave together a global portfolio of partners and technologies that will deliver long-term value to our customers, stakeholders, and society. Woven Capital will also enable us to make growth-stage investments in companies in the Toyota AI Ventures portfolio as they look to raise additional capital.”

Woven Planet Holdings will have the strategic decision-making function for the entire group, expand collaboration with partners, create new business opportunities, and provide corporate shared services to the operating companies.

Woven Core will continue to be responsible for the development of the Toyota Group’s automated driving technologies, and it will aim to further improve value by developing, implementing, and scaling its automated driving technologies in the market.

“When President Akio Toyoda announced that Toyota would become a mobility company, we realized that we would need strong software and strong hardware working together in order to achieve that,” he said.

Next: The Woven Planet joint venture

“We started TRI-AD in March 2018 as a joint venture between Toyota, Denso, and Aisin in order to unify and strengthen Toyota’s software capabilities, particularly for automated driving and advanced safety,”  said Kuffner. “Two years later, we have made some great progress, hired some wonderful people, made some strategic partnerships, and received strong support from the Toyota Group, which has enhanced our ability to successfully develop cutting-edge software.

“Now we would like to take TRI-AD to the next stage and prepare our company for unparalleled growth, speed, and quality, which will lead the way into the future,” he said. “It is my firm belief that this will all be possible under the new Woven Planet Holdings structure, which will consolidate our efforts and equip us with the necessary ingredients of people, technology, infrastructure, and corporate management to achieve our vision.”

Woven Capital is now looking to recruit a more diverse group of people to run the fund from the US.

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