The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a €40 million quasi-equity investment into Wingcopter GmbH, a European leader and pioneer in unmanned delivery drone technology and related services. Wingcopter was founded in 2017 in the German state of Hesse, and its electric-powered unmanned aircraft have already made deliveries as part of a few pilot programs for businesses and nonprofits.
For example, in Malawi, 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 European Commission’s InvestEU program supports the EIB investment through its sustainable infrastructure window. Using electric cargo drones to deliver critically required items can replace carbon-intense forms of transport such as motorcycles, vans, and helicopters, so contributing to the transition towards a green and sustainable economy.
Germany will Debut the Wingcopter 198
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 supported by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
What makes Wingcopter’s cargo drones truly unique is their ability to take off and land vertically while flying rapidly and effectively over vast distances like an airline without the need for expensive infrastructure. They can carry up to 5 kg and cover distances of up to 100 km. The essential software and hardware are protected by international patents. Already working on pure battery power, the Wingcopter team, coupled 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 periods.
Leading European retailer REWE Group, Japanese Fortune 100 conglomerate ITOCHU, Silicon Valley’s Xplorer Capital, and Uber co-founder Garrett Camp’s investment arm Expa are among the other prominent investors who have already committed to the project prior to the EIB’s investment. In order to become a global logistics services provider across multiple sectors, Wingcopter will need to increase the capabilities of its flagship drone, secure regulatory approval in key markets, and deploy its drones at scale in sustainable last-mile delivery networks.
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle Says:
EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle, who is responsible for activities in Germany, said: “Europe is currently the global leader in cleantech, and we must work hard to maintain this lead. Central to our aim is supporting innovative European clean technology companies with worldwide reach, such as Wingcopter. Electric cargo drones are an important vertical segment for a future of sustainable transport and logistics.
By making this investment, we are demonstrating our dedication to bolstering the technological competitiveness of the European Union, fostering the creation of highly skilled employment, expanding access to new markets, and protecting the environment. We are proud to be supporting this European success story.”
European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni praised the agreement, saying, “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 promote investment that will allow Europe to preserve its position as a world leader in the creation and production of innovative products with positive real-world applications.”
Tom Plümmer, co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter Says:
Tom Plümmer, co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter, expressed gratitude to the European Investment Bank for investing in the company, saying, “We would like to thank the European Investment Bank for their trust in us and 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 employment – in R&D and production 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.”