Amazon on Thursday announced that it has launched a $1B venture investment program called the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF) to develop technologies and innovations in logistics, customer fulfillment, and the supply chain.
The Seattle-based company has invested substantially over the last two decades in next-generation technology in its operations. In 2020, the company launched a $2B Climate Pledge Fund to invest in sustainable services and technologies to facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy.
“Amazon’s climate fund has invested in 11 companies to date, including CarbonCure, CMC Machinery, Pachama, Redwood Materials, Resilient Power, Rivian, TurnTide Technologies, BETA Technologies, Ion Energy, ZeroAvia, and Infinium,” reports Techcrunch
The purpose of AIIF is to help spur further innovation and scale the technologies to help advance and improve areas in fulfillment operations, logistics, and supply chain management, such as safety.
How will the funding be used?
According to Amazon, the AIIF will focus on companies of all stages (from early-stage startups to established companies) that are developing technologies and solutions that increase delivery speed and further improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics.
Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development says, “We see an opportunity to look beyond our own experience and empower companies that are developing emerging technologies in customer fulfillment operations, logistics, and the supply chain.”
Amazon says these could include companies working in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and other emerging technologies.
“These industries are inherently complex,” said Ceballos. “With our scale, Amazon is committed to investing in companies that will ignite innovation in emerging technologies that can help improve employee experiences and safety while seamlessly coexisting with workforces across the supply chain, logistics, and other industries.”
The AIIF’s first round of investments is focused on wearable technology that enhances safety in fulfillment buildings and robotics designed to complement and coexist with people’s lives.
In this regard, Amazon has announced the initial five companies that it’s going to invest in. However, the exact investment amount is not disclosed. The investment size will depend on the opportunity and stage of growth, says the company.
Check out the companies below:
Founder/s: Eric Martinez, Jen Thorson
HQ: Greenville, South Carolina
Founded in 2016
Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time, personalised alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries, most notably musculoskeletal issues.
Founder: KG Ganapathi
HQ: Santa Clara, California
Founded in 2017
Vimaan is developing computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions engineered to improve inventory management.
CEO: Damion Shelton
HQ: Corvallis, Oregon
Founded in 2015
Agility Robotics is developing a bipedal walking robot, Digit, that addresses the mobility limitations of traditional robots so that machines can assist people wherever they are.
Founder/s: Liran Raizer
Founded in 2014
BionicHIVE is developing an autonomous robotic solution that can adapt to existing shelving racks and boxes in warehouses and is capable of floor-to-ceiling functionality.
Founder/s: Gerry Vannuffelen, Pei-Jui Wang
HQ: San Francisco
Founded in 2020
Mantis Robotics is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to work alongside people.
“Investing in companies that are driving the next generation of industrial innovation can have an impact across communities—globally, regionally, and locally,” says Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research.
“It’s great to see Amazon make these investments in companies in the U.S. and globally, as historically, ongoing investment in innovation has shown to have a positive economic impact,” he adds.
“Even as we have continually improved our operations to better the employee experience and enhanced safety through the development of new workstations with better ergonomics, we hope this fund opens the door for more collaboration,” said Ceballos.