Australia Post is getting in on the innovation act, announcing it has launched an investment fund and will begin a major drone delivery trial in 2016.
The company has set aside $20 million to invest in emerging ecommerce businesses and will also forge a new partnership with Melbourne University.
The partnership will see two new places aimed specifically for ecommerce businesses open up in the Melbourne Accelerator Program.
The businesses include those operating in online shopping, deliveries, communications, payments and transactions. The successful applicants will receive $20,000 in funding, office space and mentoring.
Australia Post managing director and group CEO Ahmed Fahour says he expects the fund to grow to more than $100 million in the coming years.
“I’m very proud to announce that our Board has recently allocated an initial $20 million towards our e-commerce Innovation Capital Fund,” he says,
“Over time, as it becomes successful, this fund could grow into a $100 million fund. The fund will be used to invest in tangible commercial venture opportunities in the ecommerce market.
“So we are actively seeking to invest in and accelerate new business ideas. And we expect those ideas will come from a variety of different sources. Our own staff, our customers – especially small to medium size businesses, our partners and the community.”
The fund will be managed by the Australia Post Accelerator, which will select ideas “that have real commercial potential” and co-invest in them.
“Over time, a handful of these opportunities will be accelerated; scaled for growth; and some will be folded back into the core of our business while others will leave to take on the world,” Fahour says.
Last week Fahour told the Australian Financial Review that drones were not gimmicks and Australia Post had already begun and a trial with a “major” ecommerce business next year.
Investors certainly think they’re here to stay. Funding for drone-based startups hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2015, for the third time in a row.
According to CB Insights data, drone companies raised over $US300 million in funding this year, with $US139 million of that coming in the third quarter.