Ikea-owner invests £12m in London-based startup what3words

The investor says the startup's location technology could be used for drone deliveries and autonomous vehicles

Ingka invests in What3Words

Ingka Investments, owner and operator of 389 Ikea stores and e-commerce across 32 countries, has invested close to £12 million in London-based tech startup what3words.

What3words technology divides the world into a grid of 3-metre squares, with each square being assigned a unique combination of 3 words that can be used to pinpoint the area to a high degree of accuracy. This has a number of use cases, including helping emergency services locate 999 callers in locations that are difficult to describe, such as a remote hillside.

Ingka said that the technology would prove useful with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the number of vehicles on the roads by ensuring more first-time deliveries are successful.

“As we look to a future of drone deliveries and autonomous vehicles, the system, also designed for voice entry, will provide the accuracy needed,” it added.

The investment is set to launch the startup into new international markets while continuing to develop partners within the e-commerce and logistics sector.

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

“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.”

The Ingka Group has already made a number of investments to help support the core Ikea retail business, including in areas such as digitalisation, customer fulfilment, fintech, and sustainability.

“What3word’s ambition is to become a global standard for communicating location," said Chris Sheldrick, CEO 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. The investment from Ingka Investments will help us unlock new markets while accelerating our position as a ‘must-have’ in the logistics industry.”

In November 2019, Capita integrated the what3words app into its “Vision” control systems to help emergency services locate 999 callers in difficult to pinpoint areas.

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