Start-ups in the logistics field: the research of the Contract Logistics “Gino Marchet” Observatory

According to the research published by the Contract Logistics “Gino Marchet” Observatory at MIP, the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano (contractlogistics.it), there are 363 venture-backed start-ups in the logistics sector at global level, which have received overall $ 6 billion from venture capital investors. 205 of them are B2B logistics service providers, 134 offer B2C solutions.

The Observatory identifies 90 Asian start-ups (85% of them are Chinese and Indian), which have received in total $ 3.9 billion; 133 start-ups are American, and they have received $ 1.5 billion; 90 start-ups are European, with $ 428 million; only 16 start-ups are Italian, and they have received just $ 14 million.

The research focuses on 319 “pure logistics” start-ups, and therefore it excludes 44 logistics companies that also sell products (such as food delivery and online supermarkets).

The 319 analysed start-ups are then classified in:

  • new logistic players, which offer innovative logistics services in terms of geographical scope, type of activities, and technologies (110 companies);
  • platforms for matching demand and offer of logistics services (100 companies);
  • software service providers for the management of logistics services (78 companies);
  • innovative hardware solutions to support logistics activities (31 companies);

The key research outcomes are the followings.

The new logistic players are companies that build their business models on software innovation, which is increasingly used as a differentiation factor in the provision of services: digitisation of non-value-added information flows (Freighthub), algorithms and data science techniques for transportation planning (Rivigo), etc. 

Some of these players introduce new types of services, mainly in the B2C area: storage, packaging and transportation services for small online retailers (ShipBob), returns management (Returnbase), last-mile/urban delivery (Milkman, Ponyzero), etc.

The platforms for matching demand and offer of logistics services are mainly focused on transportation services (74% of the companies), such as Convoy andFastvan; few of them extend the offer to storage services (Stord). Approx. 20% of the platforms involves non-specialized users (crowd), such as Roadie and Storebox.

The software service providers are developers of solutions for monitoring, planning and optimising logistics activities, such as fleet management (30 companies, like GetSwift), supply chain visibility (19 companies, like Kizy Tracking), advanced TMS (13 companies, like Qaplà), data analytics (11 companies, like Nautilus Labs) inventory & order management (5 companies, like Expandly).

The innovative hardware providers offer solutions to support mainly warehouse activities (warehouse robotics, such as Exotec Solutions) and transportation activities (smart vehicles, such as Elroy Air). Few of them develop smart mailboxes (uCella), packaging solutions (The Carbon Freight Company) or wearable devices.

In general, traditional logistics players look positively at start-ups, as they bring innovation to the industry. Some players have started new projects inspired by a start-up; others are willing to partner with them. At the moment, few traditional logistics players are considering to innovate through start-ups’ acquisitions.


SOURCES:

You can find the more details on the analysis (in Italian) at the following link: https://www.osservatori.net/it_it/pubblicazioni/logistica-spicca-il-volo