Microsoft and Qualcomm back robotics start-up

  • August 9, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Microsoft and Qualcomm have led a $30m funding round into California-based warehouse automation company InVia Robotics.

The series C funding round from Microsoft’s M12 venture fund and Qualcomm Ventures was joined by Hitachi Ventures and InVia Robotics’ existing investors Point 72, Upfront and Embark. This brings the total raised to $59m.

The latest funding comes on the heels of record revenue and deployment growth in 2020 for InVia, driven by a heightened demand for optimisation technology in ecommerce fulfilment spurred by the pandemic.

In the USA alone, ecommerce experienced 44% year-over-year growth, prompting immediate and long-term adjustments for fulfilment centres to keep up with record online shopping numbers. Last year, InVia increased deployments, growing revenue by 600%.

“We are proud and honoured to have earned the confidence from these industry-leading investors who are equally as committed to the progression of automation within the supply chain as we are,” said Lior Elazary, CEO of InVia. “We have intentionally aligned ourselves in the best interest of our customers and their businesses, finding ways to not only optimise productivity, but also further InVia Robotics’ global reach.”

The investment will be used primarily to extend product reach and operational support in North America. The funding will also be used to drive market expansion to Apac and Emea as well as align InVia with supply chain partners to open channels and deliver end-to-end logistics.

InVia anticipates using the Qualcomm Robotics RB5 5G and AI-enabled robotics platform to facilitate development of power-efficient, high computing robots and drones.

“Global ecommerce adoption is experiencing exponential growth resulting in the need for robust warehouse optimisation,” said Quinn Li, senior vice president of Qualcomm. “InVia’s AI-powered warehouse automation helps improve warehouse throughput and workflow efficiency. We look forward to supporting InVia in accelerating warehouse digitisation with AI and 5G through our investment.”

InVia’s robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model has a distinct approach to fulfilment and inventory management. Through RaaS, the company offers an easy entry point for companies of any size to start a scalable path to autonomous mobile robot fleets. Furthermore, InVia makes automation adoption manageable via a subscription-based payment system where businesses pay according to the productivity levels they desire, versus needing to lease and maintain equipment.

“InVia’s integration with software and AI at the core enables warehouse managers to take advantage of operational and cost efficiencies that have historically only been available to large enterprises,” said M12 principal James Wu. “Now, InVia’s pre-built integrations with warehouse management systems are making scalable customisation accessible to companies of all sizes.”

The platform programmatically digitises every logistics workflow, using AI to optimise machines and people. It includes intelligent software that orchestrates the efficient movement of goods across a warehouse using proprietary algorithms to assign and balance tasks.