Amazon is creating a $1 billion venture investment program, the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF), with the goal of supporting innovation in customer fulfillment, logistics and the supply chain. The AIIF will focus on companies with solutions that can incrementally increase delivery speed and further improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics fields.
The AIIF will invest in a wide range of companies, from early-stage startups to more established companies. Amazon is primarily interested in robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy and other emerging technologies.
“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, VP of Worldwide Corporate Development at Amazon in a statement. “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 AIIF’s first round of investments is focused on wearable technology designed to enhance safety in fulfillment facilities, and robotics designed to complement and coexist with existing workers. The companies receiving the initial funding are:
- Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time personalized alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries such as musculoskeletal issues;
- Vimaan is developing computer vision and artificial intelligence solutions engineered to improve inventory management;
- Agility Robotics is developing a bi-pedal walking robot, Digit, to address the mobility limitations of traditional robots to help machines assist people wherever they are;
- BionicHIVE is working on an autonomous robotic solution that can adapt to existing shelving racks and boxes in warehouses and is capable of floor-to-ceiling functionality; and
- Mantis Robotics is developing a tactile robotic arm that uses sensor technology to cohesively work alongside people.
Amazon also made a major investment in economic initiatives in March 2022 as part of its $2 billion Amazon Housing Equity Fund. The ecommerce giant is providing $124.4 million to build 1,060 affordable homes near four public transit sites in Washington State’s Puget Sound region and the Arlington, Va. region.