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Middle Mile Meets Final Mile as Warp joins Urban Freight Lab

Middle Mile Meets Final Mile as Warp joins Urban Freight Lab
Middle Mile Meets Final Mile as Warp joins Urban Freight Lab
April 20, 2022   //   

By Brian Straight

Middle-mile technology company Warp is joining the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab (UFL), the company announced Wednesday.

Warp is the first company focused on the middle mile joining UFL, which is a public-private partnership housed at the UW’s Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center. Warp co-founder and CEO Daniel Sokolovsky is familiar with the work of UFL, having served as CEO of AxleHire during a Seattle last-mile delivery pilot conducted by UFL in 2021.

“UFL is doing some really innovative work when it comes to creating smarter, more sustainable cities and we had a great experience working with them last year on their Seattle Neighborhood Delivery Hub pilot project,” Sokolovsky said. “But there has already been so much innovation when it comes to sustainability in the last-mile space. As a middle-mile service provider we’re trying to do things a little differently. We have plans to collaborate with other UFL members to create a fully linked sustainable supply chain from start to finish.”

Warp was founded by Sokolovsky and Troy Lester to digitally connect customers to delivery capacity in the middle mile — a critical link in the supply chain that enables last-mile delivery to succeed. The company announced a $2.4 million seed funding round led by Bee Partners in February.

Retailers are increasingly looking for middle-mile solutions to scale their e-commerce businesses. Warp enables less-than-truckload shipping options of items, including moving goods from a factory or port to a local distribution fulfillment center or warehouse, warehouse transfers, direct store distribution and direct carrier injections.

UFL includes companies both large and small seeking to find innovative solutions to last-mile delivery. Transportation and logistics partners involved in the program include Amazon, Cornucopia Logistics, PepsiCo and UPS. It also features companies invested in infrastructure and operations technology including Reef and real estate corporation Terreno Realty. There are also vehicle providers including compact container and e-bike delivery provider Urb-E, Coaster Cycles, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Michelin.

“Warp brings a fierce appetite for innovation, bringing high-impact, low-cost solutions to goods delivery in urban settings and cities,” said Anne Goodchild, director of the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center. “Having worked together previously on the Seattle Neighborhood Delivery Hub with great success, we are looking forward to seeing what we can do next.”

The results of the Seattle Neighborhood Delivery Hub pilot project, conducted between April and July of 2021, found that e-cargo bikes delivered less than a truck, but the efficiency displayed within the pilot suggests reductions in carbon emissions per package compared to delivery trucks are achievable. The pilot program used a central drop-off/pickup location for goods and services at the neighborhood level that could be used by multiple delivery providers, retailers and consumers. Goods were trucked to the hub, which was a temporary location that took up about 20 spots inside an uptown Seattle parking lot not far from the iconic Space Needle, and e-cargo bikes were used to make the final delivery.