Darmstadt-based startup Wingcopter, the developer, manufacturer and operator of unmanned delivery drones for commercial and humanitarian applications, has secured around €18 million in Series A funding. Wingcopter will use the funds to strengthen its leadership in drone-based logistics, with a special focus on healthcare-related applications, including the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. At the same time, Wingcopter is well-positioned and ready to establish more partnerships worldwide centering around other fully automated delivery applications.
The financing round was led by Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital, a key investor in autonomous technologies, and Futury Regio Growth Fund, a Germany-based growth capital fund focusing on investments in globally scalable business models. In addition, Futury Ventures and Hessen Kapital III participated in this financing round.
The current model, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift, provides both one- and two-way delivery, covering distances of up to 120 kilometers. It can accurately lower a package through a winch mechanism, or land at the point of destination and return to its origin with new payload. To further expand its market reach, Wingcopter is pressing ahead at full speed to launch the next generation of its aircraft, a game-changing delivery drone with unmatched technical specifications. Pre-orders can already be placed.
In addition to selling drones, Wingcopter will rapidly expand its drone-delivery-as-a-service offerings. These services give customers the opportunity to instantly benefit from Wingcopter’s cutting-edge technology and its BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flight operations track record on five continents without having to own and maintain a fleet of drones, hire and train pilots, or run operations themselves.
A portion of the new capital is allocated to setting up a partially automated serial production at Wingcopter’s new headquarters in Weiterstadt, Germany, already home to more than 100 employees. The 7,200 square meter (77,500 square feet) site allows for a swift ramp up to mass production to meet a constantly growing global demand. To achieve this, Wingcopter combines the scaling methods of the automotive industry with an aviation-grade discipline for quality and safety.
Wingcopter (founded in 2017) plans to further grow the team in the fields of flight testing, certification, production (including a new US facility), and software development, specifically focused on ground and flight control software, embedded systems, software architecture, and cloud infrastructure.
Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, comments: “Our team is driven by tackling the world’s challenges through scalable innovations. This chapter of our journey is dedicated to setting up logistical highways in the sky that leapfrog traditional means of transportation. Poor infrastructure has always been a barrier, especially for healthcare provision, impacting billions of lives – a situation further exacerbated by COVID-19. With the support and powerful networks of our investors we are taking a huge step closer to fulfilling our vision of creating efficient and sustainable drone solutions that improve and save lives everywhere.”
“We have been impressed with the Wingcopter team and the speed at which they have developed the product and built the company. We look forward to watching and supporting them as they help to deliver vaccines in the near-term, and to deliver freight in a more sustainable way over the long-term”, explains Jonathan McQueen, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Xplorer Capital.
“The Wingcopter team combines entrepreneurial spirit with superior technology know-how and looks back on an impressive number of worldwide drone projects. This is what it takes to conquer a rapidly growing market such as the international drone market. We are excited to support Wingcopter on its flight towards becoming a global leader in the international drone business and look forward to working together with the team and founders”, says Benjamin Krahmer, Managing Director of Futury Regio Growth Fund and Futury Ventures.
In Malawi, Wingcopter recently started a long-term COVID-19 response project named Drone + Data Aid to improve healthcare supply chains together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As part of the undertaking, Wingcopter has partnered with UNICEF’S African Drone and Data Academy to train local youth in drone operations, from mission planning to piloting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) delivery and surveying flights.
In 2020, Wingcopter was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, recognizing its significant social impact as part of the fourth industrial revolution.