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04/27/2022

Amazon Launches $1 Billion Venture Fund

Amazon has committed $1 billion to a new venture investment program dubbed the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund (AIIF).
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The fund will spur and support innovation in customer fulfillment, logistics and the supply chain, Amazon said in a recent blog post. The fund will support Amazon’s investments in next-generation technology and will be one of the ways the retailer continues to invest alongside its MARS and re:MARS conferences it hosts annually.

“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,” Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, said in the post. “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 fund will invest in companies that increase delivery speed and focus on improving the experience of employees in logistics and warehousing. Amazon has previously invested in companies and technologies that support employees and customers, particularly around artificial intelligence, robotics and other cutting-edge inventions. This includes robotic arms to complete repetitive tasks and products in autonomous movement that can help transport larger items.

In its first round of investing, the fund has zeroed in on wearable technology that enhances safety in fulfillment buildings and robotics designed to complement and coexist with people’s lives, the e-commerce giant stated. The companies the fund will support include:

  • Modjoul: Founded in 2016 and based in Greenville, South Carolina, Modjoul is developing wearable safety technology that enables real-time, personalized alerts and recommendations aimed at reducing injuries, most notably musculoskeletal issues.
  • Vimaan: Founded in 2017 and based in Santa Clara, California, Vimaan is developing computer vision and AI 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 so that machines can assist people wherever they are.
  • 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.

“Investing in companies that are driving the next generation of industrial innovation can have impact across communities—globally, regionally, and locally,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research. “It’s great to see Amazon make these investments in companies in the U.S. and around the world, as historically, ongoing investment in innovation has shown to have a positive economic impact.”