Revolution.Aero Uplift: Spread your Wing(copter)s
On-demand drone delivery specialist, Wingcopter has just secured $42m in funding as part of a Series A extension round. The German drone developer, specialising in medicine, vaccine and laboratory sample deliveries, can now literally spread its Wingcopter operations. But co-founder and CEO, Tom Plümmer (pictured right) tells Revolution.Aero this is just the beginning.
The latest investment tripled Wingcopter’s total equity raise to more than $60m.
“The next round will be considerably larger than the current one. It helps a lot to have a steadily increasing demand from all over the world for our current model, the Wingcopter 198, and to already have full order books for this year plus a large number of sold production slots for the upcoming years,” says Plümmer.
The latest round included a first and second closing three months apart. Plümmer says the process was smooth and devoid of any of the “current tensions” in the market. However, and quite positively, due to oversubscription, some investors were unable to join.
“We are now talking to all these potential investors about the next round,” adds Plümmer.
Wingcopter currently has a 120-strong team, but there are plans to expand the workforce to 200. If the past few years are anything to go by, Plümmer is confident operations will need to be expanded.
“The pandemic has proven that autonomous technologies such as drones can be a part of the solution as they allow the fast, efficient and contactless supply of hard-to-reach areas with medicines or Covid vaccines,” says Plümmer.
One example and a live Wingcopter operation is the delivery of Covid vaccines via drone to remote healthcare facilities in rural Malawi. This is especially important during the rainy season when floods make roads inaccessible for cars making drones the only way to reach many villages. Wingcopter has been active in the African country since 2019 and has recently announced plans to expand its operations there.
Elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa the company has recently partnered with Continental Drones based in Accra, Ghana. The two firms plan to deploy 12,000 Wingcopter drones over the coming years to deliver goods in the region.
“The Wingcopters will be used for the on-demand delivery of medicines, vaccines and laboratory samples, as well as many other important goods for everyday life. We also have some exciting delivery applications on the agenda that have not been revealed,” says Plümmer.
Wingcopter is also exploring market potential in the Far East. “Japan is especially interesting because of the country’s ambitious plans to integrate drones into everyday life,” explains Plümmer.
The company has successfully completed pilot projects together with the largest Japanese airline, ANA, delivering medical supplies and other essential goods between the Gotō Islands in the southwestern part of the Japanese archipelago.
Also, Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU, the owner of supermarket chain FamilyMart with 24,500 stores in Japan and Southeast Asia, has come onboard as a new investor and authorised partner.
“The opportunities for the local market will certainly go beyond medical delivery,” says Plümmer.