Amazon launches $1bn fund for start-ups revolutionising warehouses

22 Apr 2022

Image: © wolterke/Stock.adobe.com

The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund has already invested in five wearables and robotics start-ups trying to improve employee experience.

Amazon has launched a $1bn venture investment innovation fund for start-ups building new technologies in the customer fulfilment, logistics and supply chain spaces.

Announced yesterday (21 April), the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund will focus on companies developing innovations that can increase delivery speeds in online shopping and improve the experience of employees working in warehouses and logistics.

Future Human

“We know there are companies out there that share our curiosity and excitement to invent,” said Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, VP of worldwide corporate development at Amazon.

“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.”

He added that Amazon is looking to find innovative technologies in these “inherently complex” industries that can help improve employee experiences and safety while seamlessly coexisting with workforces.

A batch of five, mostly US-based, start-ups have already received investment through the innovation fund: Modjoul, Vimaan, Agility Robotics, BionicHive and Mantis Robotics. All five start-ups are developing technologies to help workers in warehouses.

South Carolina-based Modjoul is developing wearable technology that aims to reduce musculoskeletal injuries among workers, while California company Vimaan works on AI-powered computer vision to improve inventory management. Agility, BionicHive and Mantis are all building robots that can help workers in warehouses.

“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,” added Ceballos Encarnacion.

Amazon’s cloud services wing, Amazon Web Services (AWS), has also launched a $30m accelerator for those underrepresented in the start-up space, such as black, women, Latino and LGBTQI+ founders.

The programme will provide $125,000 in cash and up to $100,000 in AWS credits to these founders of early-stage start-ups, as well as training, mentoring and technical guidance.

In 2020, Amazon launched a $2bn climate fund to invest in start-ups creating sustainable and decarbonising technologies as part of its pledge to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Rivian, the EV maker, was one of the fund’s beneficiaries.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com