26 – 100 in alphabetical order: Jim Adler, founding managing director and board member, Toyota AI Ventures and executive adviser, Toyota Research Institute; Hiroshi Saijou, vice-president of business development and strategy, Toyota Research Institute–Advanced Development

Jim Adler is an executive adviser at Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the US-based research and prototyping arm of Japan-headquartered car manufacturer Toyota, as well as founding managing director at its $205m corporate venturing fund, Toyota AI Ventures.

Hiroshi Saijou, on the other hand, was hired in January 2020 as vice-president (VP) of business development and strategy by the ¥300bn ($2.8bn) advanced research and development and pre-production group Toyota Research Institute–Advanced Development (TRI–AD), a partnership of Toyota, TRI and automotive parts manufacturers Aisin Seiki and Denso.

Saijou is in charge of the overall business plan and leads strategic delivery of the continuing partnership development and investment. His task involves connecting hardware with integrated robotics in a bid to create better automation systems for the users.

Toyota AI Ventures focuses on artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, autonomous mobility, data, and cloud technology. These are attempts to find ways for the carmaker to go ‘inwards’ to find new technologies and business models that might impact its performance over time – referred to as an S-curve.

Adler said at the time of AI Ventures’ launch in July 2017: “One way to make the jump to a new S-curve is by being humble enough to align with the insurgents through partnerships, investments and acquisitions.

“These strategies, while far from easy, are critical to making the jump. High-tech companies, like Cisco and Intel, have been running parallel experiments through their startup investments for decades, acquiring the winners, and jumping to the next disruptive S-curve. Now automotive leaders, like Toyota, are recognising that they may need to do the same to compete against new high-tech insurgents.”

The fund most recently co-led a $7m seed round for Canada-based character simulation software supplier Ziva Dynamics in May 2020. It also reinvested in Israel-based digital companion developer Intuition Robotics in a $36m series B round three months having led its $14m series A funding in 2017.

Adler had joined TRI in May 2016 from software provider Microsoft following its acquisition of Metanautix, where he had led products and marketing. Metanautix was a big data analytics startup funded by Sequoia Capital and Workday.

And this route has been how Adler has found other roles. Before Metanautix, he was the first VP of data systems and chief privacy officer at Intelius, which was acquired by HIG Capital.

Adler earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with high honours from University of Florida and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from University of California, San Diego.

Prior to joining TRI–AD, Saijou was a general manager of new business development at automotive manufacturer Yamaha Motor Corporation for 17 months from August 2018, where he worked on robotics software development at the robotics business group.

Saijou was a founding member and CEO for Yamaha’s corporate venturing arm, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV), and concentrated on unmanned aerial vehicles, enhanced healthy life expectancy, agricultural automation and a futuristic gym initiative from the unit’s inception in 2015. From 2019, he served as a chairman of the board at YMVSV for a year.

Saijou received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kyushu University and has more than 30 patents in robotics technology and industry.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF