Wingcopter to get €40m in funding from European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing a €40m ‘quasi-equity’ investment into Wingcopter
The EIB investment is backed by the European Commission’s InvestEU programme under its sustainable infrastructure window; which say using electric cargo drones to deliver urgently needed goods can replace carbon-intensive modes of transport.
Germany-based Wingcopter’s electrically powered unmanned aircraft are already delivering goods as part of several small-scale commercial and humanitarian projects. For example, in Malawi, a joint project with UNICEF and Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developmen has seen Wingcopter’s drones deliver medical supplies to rural communities in hard-to-reach areas.
EIB vice-president Ambroise Fayolle, said: “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.”
The Wingcopter 198 is expected to be operated for the first time in Germany this summer when the OEM launches a pilot project in southern Hesse flying groceries and other consumer goods. The project, conducted together with the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, is looking to improve local supply in rural German communities in a sustainable manner. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
Wingcopter’s cargo drones can carry up to 5kg over distances of up to 100km. Already running on pure battery power, the firm, together with Hamburg-based ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research, is currently developing a green hydrogen energy system to power the drones to achieve longer flight times.
The EIB investment will sit alongside existing funding from investors including: REWE Group, ITOCHU, Xplorer Capital and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp’s investment arm Expa.
Wingcopter co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer said: “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.”
European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni added: “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.”