Could any of these start-ups be manufacturing’s answer to Amazon?

Posted on 12 Feb 2019 by Maddy White

Manufacturing’s landscape is rapidly changing, and many innovative start-ups are embracing this, can any of them make the transition to unrivalled success?

Every start-up dreams of Amazon style world-domination, but only the very best ideas and business propositions could potentially be successful and even fewer will actually ‘make’ it. In fact the vast majority of start-ups fail within their first year.

Top four growing sub-sectors (Startup Genome 2018)

1) Advanced manufacturing & Robotics (189% 5-year increase in early stage funding deals)

2) Agtech & New Food (171% 5-year increase)

3) Blockchain (163% 5-year increase)

4) Artificial Intelligence, Big Data & Analytics (77.5% 5-year increase)

Autonomous transport system

Nuro was co-founded in 2016 - image courtesy of Kroger.
Nuro was co-founded in 2016 – image courtesy of Kroger.

Start-up business Nuro, aims to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life. Its first ambitious objective? To implement self-driving vehicles designed for local goods transportation.

The robotics company has created a fully autonomous electric on-road vehicle designed to transport goods quickly, safely, and affordably.

Nuro, co-founded in 2016 by two former engineers of Google’s self-driving project, recently secured an investment of £730.9m from Japanese tech giant, Softbank to make their business a reality.

Prior to the investment, US supermarket chain Kroger partnered with Nuro to pilot an autonomous project. This saw Kroger employees load groceries into the self-driving vehicle that then delivered items directly to a customer’s home.

World’s largest 3D printed rocket

orbex space engine = image orbex
UK-based company Orbex unveiled its “Prime” rocket – image courtesy of Orbex.

UK-based company Orbex unveiled its “Prime” rocket that will reportedly be powered by the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine.

The rocket will reportedly be the first British built rocket to take off from a British launch site.

It is designed to transport small satellites into orbit, with the start-up company hoping to begin launches in late 2021 from their Sutherland spaceport.

Orbex has completed engineering on the rocket, which is made from a specially-formulated lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium composite, and includes the largest 3-D printed rocket engine ever.

It is also reportedly the first commercial rocket engine designed to work with bio-propane, a clean-burning, renewable fuel source that cuts carbon emissions by 90% compared to fossil hydrocarbon fuels. 

Relaunching supersonic aviation

Aerion plans to launch the next supersonic jet - image courtesy of Aerion. amazon
Aerion plans to launch the next supersonic jet – image courtesy of Aerion.

Start-up business Aerion plans to launch the next supersonic jet, 15 years after British Airways’ Concorde was axed in 2003 due to costs.

Last week, Boeing announced it had made “a significant investment” in the business to accelerate technology development and aircraft design, with the goal to bring Aerion’s AS2 supersonic business jet to market.

Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound (Mach 1). BA’s supersonic aircraft had a cruising speed of 1,350mph, this twice the speed of sound, and it completed just under 50,000 flights.

The AS2 is designed to fly at speeds up to Mach 1.4 or approximately 1,000 miles per hour and is slated for its first flight in 2023.

These three start-ups are innovative and extremely complex, but that won’t make them a success. They need a lot of funding and arguably most important: demand. Each offers something completely new to their markets though, however the journey to unrivalled success is triumph on a different scale.

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