While our investment team will continue to evaluate startups that reach out to us, are referred to us, or that we discover our own, the call for innovation is a way for us to more precisely signal to startups what we’re looking for. It is is also a way to spur innovation. Perhaps you are working on a startup that has similar technology that is being applied to a different product, or you are thinking about forming a startup but haven’t done so yet. The call for innovation is designed to attract qualified startups, and catalyze innovation.
Calling All Innovators
Jump-start your startup by getting your solution in front of our investment team.
In partnership with our colleagues at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), we’ve identified key technology challenges in areas like artificial intelligence, automated driving, and robotics — and we’re looking for entrepreneurs like you to solve those problems.
Our first call is designed to spur innovation in robotics, specifically mobile manipulation technologies for assistive robots that help people in and around the home, and we’re looking to invest up to $2M.
Despite advances in robotics and industrial automation, TRI sees a gap. To get assistive robots that can work around and with people in the home requires hardware and software technologies that make robots safer, more useful, and more affordable.
Examples of those technologies might include:
- Safe, lightweight arms
- Grippers designed for common daily tasks
- Technology for better tactile sensing
- Torque sensing joints
- Low-cost compute
- Solutions to compensate for lower-precision, lower-fidelity hardware
- Algorithms to learn from or annotate data
- Solutions to apply lessons learned from simulation
There’s also a need for innovative business models that deliver real value, and we’re searching for startups that can unlock these capabilities and opportunities. If your startup is up to the challenge and you meet the eligibility criteria, we invite you to respond to this call by applying below.
Applications are open now through October 31, 2018. While the call for innovation is not a contest or competition, qualified startups will be evaluated for possible funding by Toyota AI Ventures. We may invest in more than one startup company. In addition, if your solution aligns with TRI’s objectives, you may have an opportunity to do a Proof of Concept project with TRI.
The call for innovation is open to startups around the world that meet the following criteria:*
- Your company has raised less than $3 million USD in funding
- You have a working prototype to demonstrate your solution
- Your business model solves a market need and delivers value to customers
Frequently Asked Questions
How is the call for innovation different from the way Toyota AI Ventures typically finds startups to invest in?
If I want Toyota AI Ventures to consider investing in my startup, do I need to apply for the call for innovation? What if my startup is working on a different idea?
The first call for innovation is specifically for startups that are developing mobile manipulation technologies for assistive robots. If you are working on a relevant solution and meet our eligibility criteria, we encourage you to complete the application form below to get your idea in front of our investment team. If your startup is not eligible or is not qualified for this call for innovation, you can still reach our team at email@example.com. Please note that we receive a high volume of inquiries and can not respond to every request.
Is the call for innovation a contest or competition where there will be a “winner” announced?
No. The call for innovation is not a contest or competition — it’s an opportunity. We will not be selecting a “winner” from among the pool of applicants. Instead, we will be looking for qualified startups that we might invest in. We may invest in more than one startup company. Qualified startups that apply for the call will receive priority screening by our investment team, so it’s a way to get your solution in front of our team knowing that we are actively looking to invest between $500K-$2M.
Will there be more calls like this in the future?
Yes. We plan to announce additional calls for innovation in the future to address technology challenges in other areas related to TRI’s research in AI, automated driving, and robotics. Once we have more details, we’ll post them on our website.
Who do I contact if I have a question about my application, or want to update information that I have already submitted?
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about your application. However, please do not use that email address to apply or share supporting materials. You must submit your application using the form below.
How will startups that apply for the first call for innovation be evaluated?
Our investment team will evaluate your startup on the basis of your team, technology, business model, and go-to-market strategy, as well as the impact that your solution will ultimately have on improving the quality of human life. In addition, members of TRI’s robotics group will help assess your startup’s technical capabilities and approach.
If I apply for the call for innovation will I get to meet with the Toyota AI Ventures team?
While we may follow-up with some applicants to request more information, or to schedule a follow-up call or meeting, we will not be able to meet with every startup that applies.
Do startups need to be based in the United States, or travel to the U.S. for meetings?
No. The call for innovation is open to qualified startups around the world, and you are not required to travel for an in-person meeting or event in the United States.
Is Toyota AI Ventures guaranteeing that it will invest in one of the startups that applies for the call for innovation?
No. While our intention is to invest in one or more startups as a result of this call for innovation, we can not guarantee in advance that we will make an investment because it depends on the startups that apply. Qualified startups will be evaluated carefully, and will be subject to standard diligence before any investment is made.
Is there a deadline to apply for the call for innovation? When will I know the status of my application?
We will accept applications on our website until 11:59 PDT on October 31, 2018, and submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Our investment team will notify you via email as soon as a decision is made regarding your startup’s application. Please be patient as it may take us several weeks to review and respond to your application.
How to Participate
With our first call for innovation, we are looking to invest $500K - $2M USD in early-stage startups that are developing mobile manipulation solutions for assistive robots. Please review the following guidelines carefully before applying; by submitting the form, you are agreeing to these terms and the Application Terms:
- To respond to this call, submit the application form below. Only one application per company, please. All applications are subject to the Application Terms.
- Your startup must meet the eligibility criteria outlined above, and be looking to raise capital within the next six months.
- The call for innovation is not a contest or competition, and there are no “prizes.” It is an opportunity to get your startup’s solution in front of the Toyota AI Ventures investment team. Toyota AI Ventures is not agreeing to compensate you in any way as a result of applying, and all elligible participants are subject to standard diligence before any investment is made.
- By applying, you acknowledge that you are giving Toyota AI Ventures and the Toyota Research Institute the right to review the information you have submitted, and to request additional information from you as needed to further evaluate your startup.
Please answer the questions below and attach a pitch deck in PDF format that contains no more than 12 slides.
Your pitch deck should address the following:
- How your solution addresses the problem identified in this call for innovation
- The market opportunity and your current traction
- Your business model and go-to-market strategy to deliver value to customers
- Your company’s technology and how you’re applying it to the problem
- Founding team’s background and expertise
- The competitive landscape and how your approach is unique
- Financial performance, and projections
- Funding history, if any
For purposes of these Application Terms:
“Application” means your answers to the Application Form, any files you upload (including your pitch deck), and all other information you provide to TAIV.
“TAIV” means Toyota A.I. Ventures, Toyota Research Institute, Inc., and each of their parent or affiliated companies.
“You”, and “your” means the person submitting the Application and the legal entity on behalf of whom the person is submitting the Application.
By submitting your Application, you agree that:
- You are at least 18 years old.
- You are not a resident of the European Union.
- Your Application will not be considered confidential or proprietary. TAIV will not hold your idea in confidence and TAIV is free to use it without condition. TAIV may provide the Application to TAIV employees and third parties to evaluate the Application.
- TAIV may have earlier worked on, or may already be working on, the same or a similar idea, and that TAIV may have received the same or similar ideas from others.
- In no event will TAIV be limited in, or restricted from, the pursuit of any opportunities, either alone or with third parties, including, without limitation, the development of its own product(s) that compete with you or your Application.
- TAIV is not agreeing to compensate you in any way.
- You agree that if any action is brought to resolve a dispute between TAIV and you, exclusive venue for such action shall be in the courts of the State of California located in Santa Clara County, and the law governing the resolution of such dispute shall be that of the State of California.
- You understand that by making this Application, TAIV assumes no obligation to evaluate or do anything further with the Application.
- If TAIV is interested in your Application, TAIV will contact you. Otherwise, you will not hear back from TAIV about your Application.