Ikea invests 12m in UK start-up What3words

Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA outlets, has invested around £12 million in London-based location technology start-up what3words.

Ingka, who own and operate 389 IKEA stores in 32 countries, declined to disclose the exact figure.

What3words claimed it has divided the world into a grid of three metre squares and given each square a unique combination of three words, with around 57 trillion squares in total.

The start-up claimed that unlike a regular street address, which points to a street or building, the system allows people to specify a precise location such as a side door or utility entrance.

The code “slurs.this.shark” will take you to the exact front door of 10 Downing Street according to What3words.

In addition, the start-up said aside from the technology’s potential to improve deliveries and last-mile logistics it could also assist emergency and humanitarian organisations find unaddressed locations.

what3words said it will use the funding to make inroads into new international markets and to develop partnerships in the e-commerce and logistics sector.

The start-up has raised over £80 million to date from investors including Intel, Deutsche Bahn, Aramex, SAIC, and the Sony Innovation Fund since it was founded in 2013 by Chris Sheldrick and Jack Waley-Cohen.

The news comes as many large corporations are making large investments into supply chain related technology, as the pandemic continues to complicate logistics globally.

Japanese manufacturer Panasonic is set to acquire supply chain software company Blue Yonder in a deal expected to be worth $6.5 billion as part of efforts to improve its operational efficiencies.

“We are delighted with this new investment in what3words as they are an innovative company and we are confident of their continued growth,” said Krister Mattsson, managing director of Ingka Investments. “With an increasing demand for home deliveries, scalable and sustainable solutions are becoming increasingly important.”

He added: “We see value in helping to support the build-up of a universal addressing system that can lead to better customer experience, while the precise locations will allow for a reduction in overall miles travelled, reducing the carbon footprint of home deliveries.”

“what3words’ ambition is to become a global standard for communicating location,” said Chris Sheldrick, chief executive and co-founder of what3words. “We envisage a world where on every platform, in every checkout field, you can give your what3words address, with retailers able to deliver to that precise 3 metre square.”

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