Drone delivery player Manna raises $25m as it eyes expansion

29 Apr 2021

Bobby Healy. Image: Manna

The start-up has been delivering food and other goods in a controlled operation in Co Galway but is now looking to expand nationally.

Manna, the Irish drone delivery start-up, has secured $25m in a new round of funding as it prepares to expand beyond its testing phases.

The Series A round has been led by Draper Esprit with participation from DST Global and Team Europe, the fund headed up by Delivery Hero co-founder Lukasz Gadowski.

Previous investors Dynamo Ventures, Atlantic Bridge and Elkstone backed the start-up again.

Led by Bobby Healy, the start-up has been building and testing delivery drones since 2019 and over the last year has been operating controlled services in Oranmore, Co Galway.

Its uncrewed aerial vehicles deliver food and other goods in suburban areas. Its main line of business will be in food delivery, through partnerships with Just Eat and Tesco, but it also ran tests last year delivering pharmacy prescriptions and most recently with Samsung to deliver smartphones. The drones can carry loads up to 3kg.

Manna aims to replace road delivery with what it says is a safer and greener alternative. Multiple drones are managed by one Manna operator, carrying out 20 deliveries an hour. It said around 30pc of Oranmore’s 10,000 residents have used the service.

The company is aiming to expand to nationwide delivery in the next 18 months.

“The Covid-19 pandemic forced consumers across the world to re-assess how they source their goods and opened our eyes to the fragility of our supply chains,” Healy said of the demand for new delivery methods.

“There is a huge appetite for a greener, quieter, safer and faster delivery service, and we’re excited to use this fresh round of funding to expand operations and offer our service to even more customers.”

According to the start-up, it is the “most commercially progressed” company in the drone delivery space. It is operating under guidance from the Irish Aviation Authority.

“We are already working with our partners to deliver grocery products, takeaways and pharmaceutical supplies, and as we continue to scale our fleet of drones we will also begin supporting critical medical deliveries,” Healy said.

Nicola McClafferty, a partner at lead investor Draper Esprit, added: “Drones will play a key role in building a long-term and sustainable delivery infrastructure for communities around the world and Manna is already making that a reality.”

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin