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Wayve: Why F+Ventures Invested and What Makes This Autonomous Driving Startup Unique?

May 24, 2022 3 Min. #Investment#MOBILITY#Wayve

F+ Ventures, our venture capital arm, invested in Wayve, a London-based self-driving technology startup, in its Series B fundraising round in January 2022. We’re thrilled to have invested in such an innovative startup that we’ve been following for several years.

Making autonomous driving a reality has been the most sought-after problem in artificial intelligence for many years. $100bn of investment and 20mn miles of driving could not deliver any notable impact. Only a handful of pilots with significant constraints have taken place, a result far from what had been envisioned by the pioneers, which was the “safe and scalable deployment of self-driven vehicles”.

As F+ Ventures, we have evaluated countless opportunities in the field since 2015 and could not find enough conviction to pull the trigger to invest. But now we are happy to announce our investment in Wayve, which has developed a new approach to solve the autonomous driving problem, by leveraging newly emerging end-to-end deep learning research to create human level generalized intelligence. Wayve was co-founded in 2017 by two brilliant researchers, soon after they completed their PhDs and research fellowships at Cambridge University, the home school of the father of modern computer science Alan Turing. 

As it has been made clear with the success of another UK based company, Deepmind, at co-developing AlphaGo with Google, which has beaten the world’s masters in the notoriously unsolvable game Go, deep learning can achieve human level generalized intelligence. We believe its applications will continue to grow significantly over the years, with highly complex problems already having been solved not only in games, but also in image recognition, natural language processing and biochemistry. Most notably, however, autonomous driving is the area where immense disruption will occur and we are confident that Wayve will be the pioneer of this challenge.

Before making our final investment decision, we looked at Wayve from different angles and now would like to share our findings with you, to shine a light on our evaluation methodology at F+ Ventures.

Team: It’s hard not to be inspired upon listening to a talk given by Dr. Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve. His mission is exceptionally clear and his commitment to success is a rare asset in today’s world. However, what impressed us even more is his ability to attract great talent in building a remarkable team, covering essential areas to make Wayve a leading company in autonomous driving.

Product Intelligence: Wayve has demonstrated that its self-learning software can navigate through complex urban traffic with significantly less data collected than its competitors and by only using cameras as sensors. In addition, Wayve has shown that HD maps may not be necessary at all for successful deployment of self-driven vehicles. These unique selling points, together with the scalability of its self-learning software in other cities in the UK with only data collected from London, make Wayve the ideal company to invest in.

Market: We have been active in the fast-growing last mile delivery market, shown by our investments in Optiyol and Mobiqu. We believe that the market will continue growing at an exponential rate and that Wayve’s software fits perfectly with the vision of creating autonomous delivery fleets within challenging urban environments.

Business Model & Strategy: Millions of miles have been driven and enormous CAPEX investments have failed to enable the software developed by the leading autonomous driving companies. In addition, costly sensor fusion hardware has proven that current solutions are far from making economic sense. Wayve’s partnerships with the leading delivery companies to collect data without CAPEX investments and its clear focus on creating a scalable, intelligent yet simple software solution are in our opinion a profoundly smart go-to-market strategy.

Investors: In addition to creating cutting edge technology, collaboration is a much-needed phenomenon in autonomous driving. We are confident that from early angel investors to late-stage investors, Wayve has created a strong set of investors, which together will open further doors in Wayve’s journey including Eclipse Ventures, D1 Capital Partners, Baillie Gifford, Moore Strategic Ventures, Ocado Group and Linse Capital, as well as Microsoft and Virgin, and early-stage investors Compound and Balderton Capital and angel investors, including Sir Richard Branson, Rosemary Leith, Linda Levinson, David Richter, Pieter Abbeel, and Yann LeCun.non in autonomous driving. We are confident that from early angel investors to late-stage investors, Wayve has created a strong set of investors, which together will open further doors in Wayve’s journey.

In short, Wayve has proven to us that a relatively young company may disrupt a highly competitive field, where research and investment activities have been taking place for the past 17 years. We’re very excited to be part of this journey and are confident that our convictions will be proven to be correct by Wayve’s global success story in the upcoming years.

If you are an innovator, a visionary, a disruptor, contact us so we can collaborate on creating a better future together.

This article is written by Emir Dogan Gunes from F+ Ventures.