Sumitomo bets on remote driving technology from Israeli startup
TOKYO – Sumitomo Corp. has invested in a trio of Israeli tech startups, including a company developing surveillance technology for automated cars, joining the growing ranks of Japanese companies targeting a hub of high-tech entrepreneurship.
IN Venture, the venture capital arm of Sumitomo based in Israel, has reportedly invested millions of dollars each in three companies, including Ottopia, which develops teleoperation systems to help automated vehicles. Its technology uses artificial intelligence to predict wireless network conditions and compress video data to deliver stable, real-time video feed to the operator.
Israeli startups are attractive targets for Japanese companies looking for partners to expand into new areas. Business houses like Sumitomo seek to combine the innovative technology of these companies with their own extensive sales networks to benefit both.
IN Venture will offer management support to Ottopia with a view to launching the service this year. Sumitomo hopes to expand its business in Japan with Ottopia, developing a new business in automated and remote-controlled agricultural and construction equipment.
IN Venture also bought blockchain security company GK8 and Genoox, developer of a genome analysis platform. The venture capital firm has now invested in six companies since its inception in 2019, focusing on areas such as mobility and healthcare.
Israel is a startup hotspot that sees 700 to 800 launches each year, many in areas requiring advanced technical capabilities, such as AI and cybersecurity.
Other trading houses with an eye on the nation’s startup scene include Toyota Tsusho, which on Tuesday announced a distribution deal with Cybellum Technologies, a provider of cybersecurity solutions for vehicles. Cybellum’s service for the detection and analysis of vulnerabilities in vehicle software will be marketed to Japanese automakers as part of this agreement.
Marubeni is also present in Israel to unearth promising high-tech investment targets and has bought companies such as D-ID, which uses AI to anonymize faces in video footage.