The £3 million investment, which is part of a wider multi-million-pound pre-series A round, will enable StreetDrone to accelerate the development of its autonomous delivery vehicle and systems.
StreetDrone is aiming to deploy driverless delivery vehicles on the UK’s roads by the end of 2023 and is working with UK- and European-based vehicle safety agencies on defining the standards by which these technologies will be allowed to operate on public roads.
Wilko’s ambition is to ultimately provide customers with access to new digitally-enabled services, including autonomous retail deliveries, to make it easier for them to access the products they need for homes and gardens.
As part of the investment, Jonathan Griffin, Director of WilkinsonFuture, will sit on the firm’s Board, and oversee the investment on behalf of wilko.
Jerome Saint-Marc, CEO of Wilko, said: “Autonomous vehicles are the future of automated logistics, and StreetDrone is undoubtedly one of the key players that will lead the way in making this technology viable. It has gone from strength to strength over the last four years and is one of the companies that’s putting the UK on the map in developing this type of game-changing technology.
“One of the key reasons why we’re backing the team at StreetDrone is that this sort of transformative technology can have a huge and positive impact for hard-working families – and it’s this ethos that runs through all of our work at wilko. Ultimately, it has the potential to reduce costs for customers when deployed in the retail sector. We look forward to supporting them on this journey.”
Mike Potts, Founder and CEO of StreetDrone, said: “We are delighted to have the support of a major UK retailer. wilko will help us realise our aim of bringing autonomous last-mile services to UK and European roads, to the benefit of both retailers and consumers. Our technology, aligned with wilko’s determined strategy to enrich the lives of its customers, is the perfect fusion of our capability and their requirement.”
Jonathan Griffin, Director of WilkinsonFuture, said: “We were very excited when we met StreetDrone and would have happily added them directly to our portfolio of young businesses. However, it is even better that Wilko shared that view and I look forward to supporting them and seeing both businesses, one new and one over 90 years young, flourishing together.”
Founded in 1930, Wilko is a UK-based retail chain that sells homewares and household goods. With more than 400 stores across the UK, and a turnover of more than £1.2 billion in 2021, it is one of the most well-known retail brands in the country.
WilkinsonFuture, the venture capital arm of AHWL, which owns a range of investments including the wilko family of businesses invests heavily in innovative sectors; over the last six months, WilkinsonFuture has grown its investment portfolio with companies in robotics, consumer technology, and engineering.
Oxford-based StreetDrone develops autonomous technologies focussed on meeting the autonomous last-mile challenge. The company also supports a network of customers with autonomous R&D products through its StreetDrone Labs brand. StreetDrone Labs has a global spread of customers and reseller agreements from Asia and Australasia to Europe and the Middle East.