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AMP Robotics receives Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund investment

Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund helped Denver-based AMP Robotics extend its Series C round to $99 million. It was $91 million in November.

AMP raised $178 million in the extended Series C, led by Congruent Ventures and Wellington Management, Blue Earth Capital, Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, Tao Capital Partners, XN, Sequoia Capital, GV, Range Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners.

“The capital is helping us scale our operations, including deploying technology solutions to retrofit existing recycling infrastructure and expanding new infrastructure based on our AI-powered automation,” founder and CEO Matanya Horowitz told via email.

After Caltech, Horowitz founded AMP. During his doctorate, he saw how powerful computer vision was becoming and began exploring areas where it could be most useful, including recycling.

“After visiting a recycling facility and seeing not only how demanding conditions were, but how challenging a working environment it could be, I recognized this industry was a compelling opportunity for robotics,” Horowitz said. Machine learning and robotics offered compelling opportunities to automate labor-intensive, high-cost, inconsistent, and limiting tasks.

Profitable too. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the recycling industry processes 130 million metric tons of valuable commodities and contributes nearly $117 billion to the U.S. economy.

Horowitz says landfilled plastics cost the U.S. economy $7.2 billion in 2019, according to the Department of Energy (DoE). The DoE estimates that 86% of the 44 million metric tons of plastic waste managed domestically in 2019 was landfilled, 9% burned, and 5% recycled.

Horowitz estimates that recovering U.S. plastic packaging and food-service plastic could generate $2 billion to $4 billion annually.

Recycling facilities use AMP’s flagship product, AMP Cortex, to sort, pick, and reclaim plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons, and other containers and packaging. AMP claims Cortex can sort 80 to 120 items per minute with accuracy.

AMP, a 200-person company, introduced AMP Cortex-C, a smaller solution, and an integrated, standalone facility for waste management companies. Horowitz says AMP’s 275-robot fleet is now in over 100 centers, including several owned by Waste Connections, its largest customer, and that its AI platform has identified over 75 billion objects.

“Our broad product suite directly addresses the core challenges of operating recycling facilities, and we have some other amazing technology soon to come,” Horowitz said. We have opportunities in Europe and around the world, including fleet-wide robot deployments and fully automated sorting facilities. Capital helps us build technologies and teams to support these opportunities.”

AMP plans to expand its U.S. secondary sortation business at its three production facilities in Denver, Atlanta, and Cleveland. AMP sells recyclable chemicals and polymer blends to end-market buyers in addition to robotics infrastructure and software.

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