German startup Wingcopter has secured a €40 million investment boost for its sustainable electric delivery drones and logistics services. The technology, which is currently being used for commercial and humanitarian projects, will now ramp up in development.
Electric drone delivery and logistics are a promising way to meet demands for quick delivery, sustainable transport, and get goods and products to hard=to-reach areas. Electric cargo drones can replace carbon-intensive modes of transport such as motorcycles, vans and helicopters and contribute towards the transition of a greener global economy.
It’s an area that the EU is committed to backing under its sustainability initiatives. Today, German startup Wingcopter has secured €40 million backing from the EIB as part of the e European Commission’s InvestEU programme under its sustainable infrastructure window.
EIB’s investment comes alongside existing funding from international investors that include REWE Group, ITOCHU, Xplorer Capital and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp’s investment arm Expa.
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle: “Europe is currently the global leader in cleantech, and we must work hard to maintain this lead. Backing European cleantech pioneers with global reach like Wingcopter is central to our mission. Electric cargo drones are an important vertical segment for a future of sustainable transport and logistics. This investment underlines our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs growing and building advanced green technology businesses in the European Union, strengthening our technological competitiveness, creating highly skilled jobs and opening up new markets, while preserving nature. We are proud to be supporting this European success story.”
Founded in 2017, Wingcopter is manufacturing unmanned, all-electric delivery drones and also provides drone delivery services, specializing in improving medical supply chains and the logistics of urgently needed goods.
Wingcopter co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer: “We would like to thank the European Investment Bank for their trust in us and their support as we strive to become a global leader in the drone-based delivery of urgently needed goods, from medical supplies to groceries. Our goal is also to improve lives by creating many jobs — in R&D and manufacturing at our headquarters in Europe, as well as in the countries where we provide services, where we train and qualify local young people to operate our drone delivery networks. It requires strong partners like the EIB to build reliable, efficient and safe delivery drone technology and logistics services.”
Wingcopter’s drones can take off and land vertically while flying quickly and efficiently over long distances like an aeroplane without the need for expensive infrastructure. They can carry up to 5 kg and cover distances of up to 100 km. Running on pure battery power, the Wingcopter team, together with Hamburg-based ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research GmbH, is currently developing a green hydrogen energy system to power Wingcopter’s drones for even longer flight times.
The impact-led innovators are currently using the drones for humanitarian projects, showing the profound social impact that technology can have, as well as environmental benefits.
Presently, Wingcopter’s aircraft are delivering goods as part of several small-scale commercial and humanitarian projects such as in Malawi, where a joint project with UNICEF and Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has seen Wingcopter’s drones deliver life-saving medicines and medical supplies to rural communities in hard-to-reach areas.
The Wingcopter 198 is expected to be operated for the first time in Germany this summer when Wingcopter launches a pilot project in southern Hesse to test the potential of on-demand transport of groceries and other consumer goods – giving the tech a commercial element. The project’s goal is to improve local supply in rural German communities through a sustainable delivery service and will be conducted together with the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
With this new funding, the company will ramp up production of its flagship Wingcopter 198 model, expand delivery services in Europe and abroad, and accelerate the firm’s innovation efforts.
European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni: “This agreement is an excellent example of how InvestEU is helping businesses access the finance they need to innovate and expand. InvestEU will continue to support investment that will allow Europe to maintain its position as a world leader in the development and production of innovative products with positive real-world applications.”