In Brief
No single company holds the secret to the future, and Japanese automotive giant Toyota knows that. Which is why the car maker launched a venture capital unit for its research division to fund startups that could make a mark in AI and robotics.

Great innovation often springs from brilliant minds, that’s no secret. And, of course, having enough money to bring ideas to life makes a big difference. Toyota is merging brilliance with a big-budget by funding some new cutting-edge technology.

On Thursday, the Japanese car maker launched the venture capital (VC) arm of its Toyota Research Institute. The Silicon Valley-based Toyota AI Ventures, as its name implies, invests in startups working on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous driving technologies, data analytics, and cloud computing. In total, Toyota plans to allot about $100 million to fund qualified startups.

“What’s clear is that the automotive industry, and Toyota in particular, must connect to this ecosystem of startup innovation to compete in this disruptive era,” Toyota Research Institute VP for data and business development Jim Adler wrote in a blog announcement. “Toyota AI Ventures is part of our efforts to connect to this ecosystem.”

With so many recent developments in AI, particularly in self-driving systems, Toyota knows that it doesn’t have the answer to everything. “We realize we don’t know everything,” Adler added. “But we do know that humility is a prerequisite for success.” Teaming up with the right startups could be just that success Toyota is working towards.