Woven Capital, the investment arm of Toyota’s innovation-focused subsidiary Woven Planet, has announced an investment into Silicon Valley-based autonomous delivery vehicle company Nuro. This kicks off the new $800 million strategic fund, which will invest in growth-stage technology companies that could one day develop into partners or acquisitions to further a mission of building the future of safe mobility, according to George Kellerman, Woven Capital’s head of investments and acquisitions.
Woven Capital’s contribution was part of Nuro’s $500 million Series C funding round, which was announced last November. Chipotle also invested in the round, which also included funds managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., with participation from new investors Fidelity Management & Research Company, LLC and Baillie Gifford. The specific amounts invested by each stakeholder were not disclosed.
Toyota announced the $800 million investment pool in September 2020, and Woven Capital was officially formed in January 2021, with the aim of investing in technologies including autonomous mobility, machine learning, artificial intelligence, automation, connectivity and data and analytics.
“Nuro was a good jumping off point, because a lot of the work that we’re doing is really focused on developing autonomous passenger vehicles, so this is a way for us to learn and advance through a partner that is laser-focused on local goods delivery,” Kellerman told TechCrunch. “There’s a lot of opportunity to learn from them, and potentially over time, to collaborate and help them expand globally.”
Nuro’s fleet of cargo-only self-driving vehicles has already been approved by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to test on public roads, delivering goods from partners like Krogers, Domino’s, Walmart and CVS. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the need for goods delivery, giving Nuro an opportunity to become a leader in this space. Woven Capital saw an opportunity to help accelerate and strengthen that leadership position, while also setting up a strategic knowledge sharing arrangement between the two.
“[Woven Capital] has assembled a great team with ambitious goals for the future, and we share a common objective of transforming the way people live and move to make life better,” said Nuro co-founder and president Dave Ferguson in a statement. “We’ll use this new capital, and the support of one of the largest automotive companies in the world, to continue growing our team and building a great autonomous delivery product.”
Toyota Woven City concept render. Image Credits: Toyota
Automation will be a big part of Woven Capital’s portfolio, which exists to support all of parent Woven Planet’s activities, including Woven City, a testing ground for new technologies set in an interconnected smart city prototype. In February, Toyota broke ground at the Higashi-Fuji site in Susono City, Japan, at the base of Mount Fuji.
“When we think about Woven City, we think about autonomous mobility and automation more broadly,” said Kellerman. “To facilitate that, you’re going to need artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics, connectivity. So we’re going to be building a portfolio that has investments in all those areas.”
A growing trend in the mobility industry is to view mobility not just as the movement of people and goods, but as the movement of information and data. Woven Planet recognizes this and is taking a software-first approach, particularly when it comes to automobiles. This means that instead of the historical auto industry approach of designing the hardware first, and then fitting in the software to operate that vehicle, you start with the software and build hardware around it.
Building off a software-first architecture provides a lot flexibility for future innovation. If the hardware changes, you don’t have to rewrite the code, you could just add in another application. Kellerman said all the software Woven Planet is developing as a company should be usable in as many applications as possible.
Having really strong, integrated software is also the logical next step for connected mobility, and it opens up doors for rethinking what a vehicle has the potential to transport. A Nuro vehicle isn’t just a vehicle for whatever groceries it’s delivering, but it’s also a vehicle for all the information it picks up along the way and transmits back to the cloud, such as traffic flows and weather patterns. The value, therefore, is less in the A to B utility, and more in the interchange of information.
Some of the information collected by Nuro that could be immediately useful to Woven City is that related to street safety. Nuro’s vehicles don’t carry passengers, so the design features focus more on the safety of people outside of the vehicle, the aggregate data of which could be useful in human-centered city planning.
In the end, Woven Capital’s long-term view is always a potential funnel to future mergers and acquisitions, said Kellerman.
“Toyota is not historically a very acquisitive company, but within Woven Planet we’re building a corporate development team with an eye to how we can accelerate the vision and mission of Woven Planet through strategic acquisitions, as well,” said Kellerman.
Pandemic fears send stocks, oil, yields lower
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of stock prices across the world fell on Tuesday and oil prices also slipped as concern lingered over rising global COVID-19 cases and their effect on the global economic rebound.
The dollar index ticked up after touching its lowest level since March 3 and Treasury yields fell, though they still held above last week’s more than one-month lows.
India reported 1,761 deaths from COVID-19 overnight, its highest daily toll, while Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travelers.
On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply.
Some of the recent optimism about the leisure industry has waned as the reopening might take a bit longer than initially thought, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“We’re not out of the woods yet when it comes to the COVID virus and getting to where global economies are reopening,” he said. “Some of that enthusiasm has diminished.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 256.33 points, or 0.75%, to 33,821.3, the S&P 500 lost 28.32 points, or 0.68%, at 4,134.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 128.50 points, or 0.92%, to 13,786.27.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.90% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.85%.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.07%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.08% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.97%.
After touching its lowest level in nearly seven weeks overnight, the dollar index rose slightly.
The currencies and interest rate markets could be relatively calm for another few weeks as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each take their time adjusting their rate policies, said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities.
“There really isn’t a strong catalyst in either direction this month to really break us out of ranges,” Issa said.
The dollar index rose 0.166%, with the euro unchanged at $1.2033.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.08% versus the greenback at 108.09 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.3939, down 0.31% on the day.
Tufts University economist Brian Bethune said the lower yields stood in contrast with their level close to 1.8% on March 30, reflecting worries that public health gains against the virus have stalled in Brazil, Canada and other countries.
“There’s a repricing of what the international environment is going to look like,” even though the U.S. economic recovery looks strong, Bethune said.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 1.5624%, from 1.599% late on Monday.
Concern over rising COVID-19 cases in India continued to weigh on the oil market.
“Given India’s position as a major crude oil importer … new restrictions would be very bad for the energy complex,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.
U.S. crude recently fell 1.21% to $62.44 per barrel and Brent was at $66.50, down 0.82% on the day.
Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,778.80 an ounce. Silver gained 0.07% to $25.83.
Bitcoin last rose 2.4% to $57,030.36.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Laura Sanicola and David Henry in New York, Ross Kerber in Boston and Shivani Kumaresan and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Richard Chang)
Federal budget spending bookended by extended-care, child-care investments – TheChronicleHerald.ca
The Trudeau Liberal government delivered a federal budget Monday aimed at finishing the fight against COVID-19 and investing in a broken economy while providing much-anticipated good news for Nova Scotians young and old.
Introducing the first federal budget in more than two years, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the pandemic has preyed on Canadian seniors “mercilessly,” ending thousands of lives and forcing all seniors into fearful isolation.
“We have failed so many of those living in long-term care facilities,” Freeland said. “To them, and to their families, let me say this: I am so sorry. We owe you so much better than this.”
The “so much better” is expected to come from a budget announcement of a $3-billion investment over five years, starting in 2022-23, to ensure that provinces and territories provide a standard of care in their long-term care facilities.
Freeland said the pandemic has shed a light on systemic issues affecting long-term care facilities across the country, a light that was focused on Nova Scotia last week when Premier Iain Rankin was bombarded with opposition questions about pandemic failures at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax that resulted in 53 virus deaths.
Michelle Lowe, the executive director of Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association, an umbrella group that represents 85 per cent of the province’s 97 nursing homes, said her association has had recent discussion about the push for national standards.
Lowe said the Nova Scotia system is not perfect but “we have a very good system when it comes to standards and outcomes that are required.”
Lowe said the concern is that when the federal government focuses on developing national standards, “it then starts to take the focus off the really critical things that require investment.”
“The immediate issue is (staff) recruitment,” Lowe said. “Standards are important but I would say the standards that many of our facilities here in Nova Scotia abide by are exceptional.”
Lowe said Nova Scotia could set standards that would meet and likely exceed national benchmarks and said a variety of government bodies, like Accreditation Canada, audit long-term-care facilities to make sure practices meet national and international standards.
Lowe said federal government funds would be better invested in paying the sometimes unattainable fees for those governing bodies to audit facilities.
“The number one issue that’s facing long-term care in this country is recruitment,” Lowe said. “For so long, the emphasis has been on recruiting acute-care staff, recruiting doctors, recruiting nurses, to come into the primary care setting and what’s fallen off the radar and what’s fallen off efforts by government is this whole area of recruiting for continuing care, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country.”
Lowe said funding for new or renovated facilities is important “but if we don’t have the staff to support that, none of it will matter.”
“If we don’t have some significant investment in recruitment, particularly from what we are seeing here in Nova Scotia … I’m crossing my fingers and hoping this doesn’t happen, you are going to see facilities closing beds for summer vacations because they just don’t have enough staff to provide the care.”
Lowe said providing private rooms for every senior in long-term care is not realistic, based on projections that suggest 199,000 new beds would be needed over the next 15 years to support the baby boomers as they go through the system.
The federal budget also provides $90 million over three years to look at ways to support an age well at home initiative to support seniors to stay at home, in their home communities as long as possible.. The funding would provide practical support to help low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors, including matching seniors with volunteers who can help with meal preparations, home maintenance, daily errands, yard work, and transportation.
“That’s fantastic,” Lowe said of caring for more seniors at home.
The federal government has also promised to increase old age security for Canadians 75 and older.
It means providing support where COVID has struck hardest – to women, to young people, to low-wage workers, and to small and medium-sized businesses, especially in hospitality and tourism.
At the other end of the spectrum from seniors measures is a federal commitment to invest $30 billion over the next five years in a Canada-wide child-care and early learning program. By the end of next year, the federal government aims to reduce average fees for regulated early learning and child care by 50 per cent that would bring fees for 4egulated child care down to $10 per day on average within the next five years.
Combined with previous investments announced since 2015, a minimum of $9.2 billion per year will be invested annually in child care, including Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2025-26.
“Long overdue,” said Alec Stratford, chairman of the steering committee for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives,
“It’s been 50 years since the Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national child-care program,” Stratford said. “It is finally nice to see words come to fruition with a meaningful investment.”
Stratford said the program will work the same as health care, with the federal government providing funding with federal standards and the provinces figuring out the best way to deliver it.
Stratford said child care is particularly important at this current moment as “we look at the statistics on women in the labour force and the impact that the pandemic has had.”
Stratford said child care is one of the most effective economic policies that we can put into play with every dollar spent returning two dollars to the economy, a policy that creates equity among genders in the workplace.
“As women are able to feel safe in having their kids cared for, they re-enter the labour market, go back to school and find the education and tools that we all need.”
The federal budget comes with a 354.2-billion deficit for the fiscal year just completed and a projected $154.7-billion deficit for the 2021-22 fiscal cycle.
The federal budget plan is to create one million new jobs by year’s end, extended funding through the fall to bridge Canadians and Canadian businesses through the pandemic crisis toward recovery and support 500,000 new training and work opportunities, almost half of which will be opportunities for youth.
“These are the programs that are needed,” Stratford said. “That, with pharmacare, increased health-care spending, all of those programs and services work to lower the cost of living for Canadians, so that they can live a more quality life, which is a markedly different approach that we’ve seen in past governments where austerity is the policy decision-maker.”
British Columbia tackles innovation investment gap
The B.C. government will create its own investment fund to help promising B.C. companies scale up and keep jobs here at home, as part of its post-pandemic recovery plan.
The InBC strategic investment fund, announced in Monday’s Throne Speech, will be administered by a new Crown corporation. The initiative is designed to respond to concerns that the province’s world-leading innovations in sectors such as life sciences are consistently flowing to other jurisdictions with better investment climates.
The Throne Speech, read by Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, offers a self-congratulatory account of the government’s response to the health and economic challenges brought by COVID-19 over the past year, and acknowledges that the province is still in the grips of the pandemic. But it also focuses on plans to rebuild the economy.
“We open this sitting of the legislature at a turning point in our fight to end the pandemic,” she read. “The threat of new variants means we cannot relax, even as your government accelerates the largest mass-immunization program in B.C.’s history.”
Ms. Austin cited the province’s contributions to the global effort to fight COVID-19, noting that its life-sciences companies have helped develop a vaccine and a treatment for the virus, as well as the development of an ICU ventilator for use in Canadian hospitals.
“Their work will not only help bring us out of the pandemic, it will position our province for success in the years ahead,” she said.
The speech predicts the province will find continued growth in trade. “Global markets are changing in ways that offer significant opportunities for B.C.’s goods and services. Prices are expected to continue to reflect environmental, social and governance aspects of production,” it states. “British Columbia firms will be able to take advantage of a premium paid for inclusive and sustainable products.”
But leaders in health sciences and the high-tech sectors have noted that B.C., while it excels in research and development, fails to foster a business environment where those innovations can stay and grow.
Quebec and Ontario have helped secure life sciences investments by partnering with Ottawa to offer incentives. Most recently, the global pharmaceutical giant Sanofi unveiled its plans to build an influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, after the federal government and the province of Ontario committed to invest close to half a billion dollars in the project.
The B.C. government provided no detail on the new investment fund on Monday, and it is unclear how the new agency will assist. “This new strategic fund will help promising B.C. companies scale up, anchor talent – keeping jobs and investment at home in British Columbia,” it reads.
It also promises additional funding to address the challenges that COVID-19 has exposed for the homeless, for health care and for seniors in long-term care. “In the year ahead, your government will continue to improve care for seniors by hiring thousands of new workers for long-term care and fixing the cracks COVID-19 has exposed.”
The Throne Speech also promises initiatives to assist British Columbians who struggle with the cost of living. The budget, which will be introduced on April 20, will include funds to help get thousands of rental homes built throughout the province, and will expand access to the province’s $10-a-day daycare spaces.
The government is also promising changes to its vehicle insurance rates through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. ICBC will deliver a 20-per-cent cut to car insurance rates, in addition to the COVID-19 rebate that was issued earlier this year.
Source:- The Globe and Mail
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