In 2022, we launched our Industrial Innovation Fund, a $1 billion venture investment programme that supports emerging technology companies developing solutions in warehouse automation and supply chain innovation. Since kicking off, the Fund has made a dozen investments in promising technologies, such as Archetype AI, Instock and Mantis Robotics. Today, the Fund is taking another step forward by launching its first Innovation Challenge, a new global initiative to find, highlight, and drive novel technologies that help to solve the current and real challenges faced in the industry and across our operations.

We announced the introduction of the Innovation Challenge during our first European Delivering the Future event today in Vercelli, Italy. Startups working in this space face a number of hurdles beyond just securing capital, including determining product-market fit, finding customers, scaling technologies, and evaluating how and where to sell their technologies. In addition, companies like Amazon have specific technology requirements which startups may not be fully aware of or understand how to solve without guidance.

These challenges prevent many companies from reaching the point where they can commercialise and deploy their technologies at scale. The Challenge helps address these issues by collaborating with organisations that support robotics entrepreneurs, and offering Amazon’s resources, along with the opportunity for startups to potentially develop, test, and commercialise their technologies with Amazon. The Innovation Challenge will be open to startups across the globe, and will be led in partnership with Plug and Play.

Delivering the future AIIF innovation fund blog 5

“Building upon our history of developing academic-led challenges, such as the Amazon Robotics Challenge, we’re excited to introduce the Innovation Challenge." said Franziska Bossart, Head of the Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund. "While we previously invited university teams from around the world to develop autonomous robotic systems for warehouse automation tasks, we are now tapping into industry itself by working directly with the roboticists, scientists, and engineers at companies that are already actively working to solve these problems. The Challenge offers us another opportunity to support the start-up ecosystem internationally while playing an important role in helping companies learn about Amazon and how their products could address our technology and logistics needs.”

This first Innovation Challenge will focus on packaging innovation and solutions that improve inventory visibility at high speeds. As we work to improve delivery speeds and product selection, it has become increasingly important to know details about inventory at every stage of the process. From an ocean container to a customer’s door, we need to follow products throughout the supply chain. Being able to see what’s inside a box that is on the journey is a challenge we have yet to solve without physically opening them and slowing down deliveries. By tackling this challenge head on, we can help improve delivery speeds, reduce customer costs, limit customer returns and replacement orders, and realise several sustainability-related benefits.

Franziska Bossart added: “We see the Innovation Challenge as a great opportunity to work with leading minds across the industry to identify and address specific challenges that Amazon faces. We’re looking forward to kicking off this first Challenge and creating more opportunities to educate and drive awareness of other supply chain challenges we aim to overcome.”