Amazon launches a $1 billion fund to invest in startups developing supply chain, logistics, and fulfillment technologies
When most people think about Amazon, the last thing that comes to mind is robotics. The e-commerce giant currently has 100,000 orange robots that glide through its warehouses. These robots work with thousands of Amazon employees to reduce picking time for orders and speed up products delivery.
Since 2012, when the retail behemoth acquired Kiva Technologies, Amazon has been using robots to move stacks of inventory around its fulfillment centers. Now, the company is planning to take its warehouse automation to the next level with the announcement of a new fund to support startups developing supply chain, logistics, and fulfillment technologies.
Amazon announced Thursday the launch of a $1 billion venture investment program called the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF) to spur and support innovation in customer fulfillment, logistics, and the supply chain.
In a blog post, Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, said the fund will focus on new technologies that will “increase delivery speed and further improve the experience” of warehouse and logistics employees.
Over the last two decades, Amazon has invested in next-generation technology in its operations. According to Encarnacion, the new fund is “one of the ways Amazon continues to invest, along with many other initiatives, such as the MARS and re:MARS conferences that Amazon hosts every year.” The conferences bring together innovative minds in machine learning, automation, robotics, and space to share new ideas across these rapidly advancing domains.
“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,” said Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development. “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.”
The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund will invest in companies that imagine solutions that incrementally increase delivery speed and further improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics fields.
“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.”
Meanwhile, The new fund is a subset of Amazon’s growing investment activities. As we reported before, in 2020, Amazon launched a $2 billion fund to invest in climate technologies, and it operates the Alexa Fund, which has made investments in speech-recognition technology, among other areas.