Amazon said Thursday (April 21) it is launching a $1 billion venture fund to support customer fulfillment, logistics and supply chain innovation.
“As customers increasingly shop online and look for even faster delivery, Amazon continues to invent new ways to raise the bar on customer and employee experience while working with other companies focused on those fields,” the Seattle retail giant said on its website.
Amazon said the fund — dubbed the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund — will invest in companies working to “incrementally increase delivery speed” and improve the experience of employees in the fields of warehousing and logistics.
“These industries are inherently complex,” said Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development. “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 company said the fund’s first round of investments will focus on wearable technology that enhances safety in fulfillment buildings and robotics “designed to complement and coexist with people’s lives.”
The companies involved include Modjoul, a South Carolina wearable tech firm; Vimaan, a California company developing computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for inventory management, and Oregon-based Agility Robotics, which is developing a bipedal walking robot.
Also included in the funding are the Israeli firm BionicHIVE, working on a robot that can adapt to shelving racks and boxes in warehouses, and Mantis Robotics of San Francisco, which is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to work alongside people.