XPO Logistics, which has long prided itself on being at the forefront of technology in the transportation and logistics business, is expanding its reach even further by joining an MIT alliance and readying its XPO Innovation Lab for public use in 2020.
The Greenwich firm is the first global logistics company to join the MIT Industrial Liaison Program, which pairs its research resources with industry-leading corporations to solve global business challenges. Other members of the program include Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, the German company whose North American headquarters are in Ridgefield; Fujifilm, the Japanese concern whose North American base is in Valhalla, New York; General Electric, Goodyear Tire, and a host of other global companies.
“There are a lot of benefits” to joining the program, XPO Logistics Chief Information Officer Mario Harik said. “We are very much focused on technology and how to build technical solutions and innovations that will push the company forward, and this gives us access to the engineering technology at the university.”
In addition, Harik said, “It’s in our DNA to invest in innovation to provide efficient outcomes for companies, customers and people. While we share quite a bit of content with the university, we will now also be able to look how we can leverage the technology they’re developing.”
There is also the human resources factor, Harik said. “Our focus is on the best and the brightest,” he said, “and this partnership gives us access to engineering talent that is about to graduate or has recently graduated. We’re very excited about that.”
The company invests approximately $550 million annually in innovation, with a global technology organization of 1,800 professionals.
XPO Logistics CEO Bradley Jacobs emphasized the importance of technology to his company when discussing its third-quarter results, which were released on Monday. The company’s revenue for the quarter decreased by more than $4.15 billion during the three months ended Sept. 30, from $4.34 billion during the same period last year.
On an unadjusted basis, XPO’s profit rose by to $117 million, up from $101 million during the same three months in 2018.
“All the wins that we have gotten are driven by technology innovations,” Jacobs told CNBC soon after the results were released.
Also worth noting, Jacobs told CNBC that the U.S. has been in “an industrial recession for over a year now,” with a decrease in industrial output directly related to the new tariffs introduced by the White House.
In the meantime, XPO plans to unveil its Innovation Lab in High Point, North Carolina to the public next year. Harik noted that the company has used the site for R&D related to robotics and artificial intelligence for a number of years. Some tech interns have come through that facility, and XPO foresees doing some work with MIT in the Innovation Lab as well.
Harik said more details would be available in the coming months.