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Toyota leads Japanese charge into tie-ups with Chinese startups

Hitachi and Kyocera also jump in as country becomes magnet for 'open innovation'

These robots developed by a Shenzhen startup use Intel's chips -- an example of increased collaboration between Chinese ventures and big foreign corporations. (Photo by Shuhei Yamada)

TOKYO -- Top Japanese manufacturers including Toyota Motor and Hitachi are forging ties with Chinese startups, following Western giants like Airbus and Intel that have already harnessed innovation coming out of the world's No. 2 economy.

Toyota is looking to develop devices for connected vehicles, while Hitachi is on the hunt for fintech opportunities. Their moves are the latest sign that China is becoming a new focus of "open innovation," whereby companies cross industrial and national boundaries in pursuit of fresh technologies.

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