The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a €40 million quasi-equity investment into Wingcopter GmbH supporting the scale up of its electric delivery drones and logistics services, the company has announced.
Up until now, Wingcopter’s electrically powered unmanned aircraft have been used mainly to deliver goods as part of several small-scale commercial and humanitarian projects. In Malawi, for instance, the drones were used as part of a joint project with UNICEF and Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to deliver life-saving medicines and medical supplies to hard-to-reach, rural communities.
The German company said the EIB’s €40 million investment will help it ramp up production of its flagship Wingcopter 198 model as well as expanding delivery services in Europe and abroad. Wingcopter’s cargo drones can take off and land vertically, and can carry up to 5 kg over distances of up to 100 km.
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, who is responsible for activities in Germany, said: “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.”
The EIB investment is backed by the European Commission’s InvestEU programme under its sustainable infrastructure window as electric cargo drones for urgently needed goods offer an alternative to carbon- intensive modes of transport such as motorcycles, vans and helicopters.
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. 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.
Wingcopter co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer added: “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.”