Although Toyota AI Ventures aims to spread its investments worldwide, Israel’s penchant for excelling in high technology areas has increasingly drawn global attention to its startups.
Following Toyota Motor Corp’s venture arm leading a $14 million investment in Israeli robotics company named Intuition Robotics earlier in July, the Japanese giant is looking to further invest in Israeli based robotic ventures.
Toyota Motor’s investment in Intuition Robotics, which makes robots for the elderly, marked the company’s first investment in Israel.
Toyota’s new $100 million fund seeks to invest in robotics, artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, data and cloud computing.
“We will see more involvement of Toyota in the Israeli market in the future,” said Jim Adler, managing director of California-based Toyota AI Ventures, which is part of the $1 billion Toyota Research Institute.
“There’s more in the pipeline” he said while adding that technologies dealing with perception and prediction and planning were of particular interest to Toyota.
“There’s a tremendous amount of innovation happening in Israel as cars become more produced by data,” said Adler, who is in the country meeting companies whose technologies interest Toyota.
Israel has become a growing tech hub for not only the automotive industry but for the information security industry as well.
Earlier this year, Intel Corp bought Mobileye for $15.3 billion.
On Friday Germany’s Continental AG said, it was acquiring Israel’s Argus Cyber Security, whose technology guards connected cars against hacking.
Toyota’s AI Ventures, having already made 5 investments, it expects to invest in at least 20 companies worldwide.
With Japan’s ageing population, over 40% of its citizens are expected to be over 65 in the next 20 years, thus it is likely that there will be more demand for technology to help the elderly stay in their homes rather than assisted-living facilities.
“We think Toyota will have a role there,” said Adler.