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04/21/2022

Amazon creates $1 billion fund for supply chain innovation

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon Fulfillment
Amazon will invest $1 billion into supply chain technology.

Amazon is launching a $1 billion venture investment program for logistics and fulfillment technology.

The e-tail giant’s new funding initiative, called the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF), is meant to advance and support innovation in customer fulfillment, logistics, and the supply chain. According to Amazon, increasing customer demand for online shopping and fast delivery led it to create the fund.

Amazon says the new fund will invest in companies that develop and provide solutions that “incrementally increase delivery speed and further improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics fields.”

The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund’s first round of investments is focused on wearable technology that enhances safety in fulfillment buildings, as well as robotics designed to complement and coexist with people’s lives. Below are details about its initial funding recipients:

  • Modjoul: Founded in 2016 and based in Greenville, S.C, Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time, personalized alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries, including musculoskeletal issues.
  • Vimaan: Founded in 2017 and based in Santa Clara, Calif., Vimaan is developing computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions engineered to improve inventory management.
  • Agility Robotics: Founded in 2015 and based in Corvallis, Oregon, Agility Robotics is developing a bi-pedal walking robot, “Digit,” that addresses the mobility limitations of traditional robots.
  • BionicHIVE: Founded in 2014 and based in Israel, 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.
  • Mantis Robotics: Founded in 2020 and based in San Francisco, Mantis Robotics is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to cohesively work alongside people.

The AIIF will focus on companies of all stages, from early stage startups to more established companies. These could include companies working in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, and other emerging technologies. The investment size for each individual funding recipient will vary based on the opportunity and stage of growth.

“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 VP 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.”

Amazon Climate Pledge Fund backs sustainable technology

The AIIF is not the first investment fund Amazon has launched to support technology innovation is a specific area. In June 2020, the company rolled out the Climate Pledge Fund, a dedicated venture investment program designed to support the development of sustainable technologies and services. Amazon hopes the fund will enable it and other companies to meet The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040. 

Amazon is providing initial funding of $2 billion to back visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. The e-tailer announced its first five Climate Pledge Fund investments in September 2020, and added two more in December 2021.