US e-commerce titan Amazon said it committed $1 billion to a new venture investment fund that aims to invest in companies developing technology to support various e-commerce business processes such as customer fulfillment, logistics, safety, supply chain and warehouse management.
Called the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund, the new initiative will focus on companies of all stages — from early stage start-ups to established businesses.
These could include companies working in the areas of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy and other emerging technologies, Amazon said.
“We see an opportunity to look beyond our own experience and empower companies that are developing emerging technologies,” Alex Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, said.
“Whether our investment helps them grow or leads them to work with Amazon, or both, we are 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 Covid-19 pandemic, which led to lockdowns around the world, hastened the move to digital services as consumers switched to cashless payments and online shopping. Globally, digital payments are expected to grow to $8.26 trillion by 2024, from $4.4tn in 2020, Statista said.
Global e-commerce market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.7 per cent from 2020 to 2027, from $9.09tn in 2019, according to Grand View Research, an India and the US based market research and consulting company.
Amazon said the investment size will vary based on the opportunity and the beneficiary company’s stage of growth.
The fund will invest in companies that imagine solutions that “incrementally increase delivery speed” and improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics fields.
Its first round of investments is focused on wearable technology that could enhance safety in fulfillment buildings and robotics designed to complement and co-exist with people’s lives.
These industries are inherently complex, said Mr Encarnacion.
“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,” he added.