Set up by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis in 2014, Starship builds and operates fleets of electrically powered robots that deliver food, groceries, tools and corporate documents over the ‘last-mile’ into customers’ hands. According to the company, its robots have prevented almost 1,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide since launch, completing more than six million deliveries.
Today, Starship operates in 80 locations globally including the UK, US, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and Finland. The new $90m funding round, co-led by Plural and Iconical, takes total investment in Starship to $230m. The company said the cash injection will allow it to expand operations and continue building out its core technology.
“Autonomous delivery isn’t some science fiction concept from Bladerunner for decades in the future, it’s a reality for hundreds of thousands of people every day,” Heinla, CEO at Starship Technologies, said in a statement.
“Building a company like Starship takes at least a decade of perfecting the technology, streamlining operations and reducing costs to make last-mile autonomous delivery viable and sustainable at scale. Now we’re ready to take on the world and with ambitions to build a category-dominating company that can change the daily lives of millions of people in thousands of locations worldwide.”
The online food delivery market is expected to more than double by 2030, with carbon emissions from last-mile delivery in Europe alone expected to reach 5.5 million tonnes in 2032. While Starship’s slice of this market is currently tiny, the scope to expand is significant. Companies such as Bolt, Grubhub and Co-Op have utilised Starship deliveries, with the latter deploying the robots in UK cities including Milton Keynes, Leeds, Manchester and Cambridge.
However, it is in the US that the company has seen its biggest growth, with college campuses in particular being a strong focus. Starship robots now facilitate deliveries at over 50 university campuses across the US. The company recently unveiled a new wireless charging system for its robots at George Mason University, which was the first US campus to adopt the robots back in 2019.