The Toyota Research Institute (TRI-AD) announced in a September 10 press release that it would be creating a global growth investment fund targeted at new forms of mobility. The fund is to be named Woven, L.P, with the mission “Mobility to Love, Safety to Live”.
Initial commitment is reported at $800 million, with a target January 2021 launch date. The announcement also forms a triad of operating companies, including Woven CORE, Woven Alpha, and Woven Capital, all under the umbrella of Woven Planet. The fund is set to be located in the United States, and operate over a period of 10 years. This timeline would align with the majority of the legwork to complete certification processes, final design and manufacturing implementation details, and stand up baseline infrastructure for initial commercial operations of aerial mobility aircraft (among other mobility sources) at least in part. While the fund is more diversified than aerial mobility technologies and the respective enabling technologies, future blueprints for technical development in the mobility space are increasingly sourcing common design principles (electronic propulsion or automated guidance/directional control on ground) and operations interface (application or dashboard based ride sharing/hailing/management) that would enable investments in certain technologies intended for on-ground or in-air transport to benefit other sectors as well.
From Toyota’s press release, the fund focuses on “Growth-stage companies with innovative technologies and business models in areas such as autonomous mobility, automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity, and smart cities”. The Research Institute also shared via their website that they intend on hiring new personnel to assist with the development and management of the Fund.
Why it’s important: Toyota is no stranger to the aerial mobility industry, having previously invested in Joby and SkyDrive. This announcement further commits the company toward a majority stake in many mobility industries, including that of aerial mobility. To date, one of the largest investments in an aerial mobility company included involvement from Toyota: Joby’s massive $590 million dollar commitment in January of 2020. While the larger fund being announced by Toyota won’t exceed that dollar amount for any one company, in all likelihood, the potential total benefit could be similar when a series of smaller investments made in multiple smaller enabling technology companies are considered.
Read the full press release from Toyota here.