Amazon has a new $1 billion venture fund to invest in companies working in the customer fulfillment, logistics and supply chain sectors. Its new Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund comes amid record venture investment into the shipping and logistics management space prompted by snarled global supply chains.
“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,” Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, wrote in a blog post. “We know there are companies out there that share our curiosity and excitement to invent. Whether our investment helps them grow or leads them to work with Amazon, or both, we’re excited to help advance these technologies as online shopping becomes even more important to people who are looking for more convenience and time savings.”
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Amazon said its new fund will focus on companies across all stages, from early-stage startups to more established companies. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant is interested in companies in the broad operations, logistics and supply chain management space, which it said could include those working on robotics, AI, machine learning and autonomy.
So far, three of its initial investments from the new fund have gone to startups working on warehouse robotics:
- Agility Robotics, the Albany, Oregon-based maker of a bi-pedal walking robot called Digit that works alongside warehouse workers.
- BionicHIVE, an Israeli company working on autonomous robotics for warehouses.
- Mantis Robotics, a San Francisco-based startup developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to work alongside people in warehouses.
Amazon said it’s also invested in a wearable technology and an AI company:
- Modjoul, a Greenville, South Carolina-based startup that makes wearable safety technology aimed at reducing workplace injuries.
- Vimaan, a Santa Clara, California-based company that’s developing computer vision and AI technology to improve inventory management.
The size of the checks it writes from the new fund will vary, Amazon said. It also didn’t specify how many companies it expects to invest in.
Venture-backed supply chain management companies raised a record $11.3 billion worldwide last year, according to Crunchbase data—nearly double the figure from 2020.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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