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, which closed on October 31, 2018, is designed to spur innovation in robotics. Specifically, we’re looking to invest up to $2M in startups that are developing mobile manipulation technologies for assistive robots that help people in and around the home.

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. 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.

Details on the eligibility criteria and guidelines are listed below. Please note that the deadline to apply for the first call was October 31, 2018. We are currently reviewing applications and will notify applicants of their status in the coming weeks.


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
* Additional rules apply to submissions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is the call for innovation different from the way Toyota AI Ventures typically finds startups to invest in?

    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.

  • 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 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 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?

    The deadline to submit applications for the first call for innovation was 11:59 PDT on October 31, 2018, and we are no longer accepting submissions for this call. If you applied before the deadline, 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. We will announce details of future calls on this website when they are available.

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