Virgin Hyperloop One expands to Europe with €500m Spain centre

7 Aug 2018

Interior of Virgin Hyperloop One’s test track. Image: Virgin Hyperloop One

Much of the developments in Hyperloop technology have largely been found in the US, but that’s all about to change.

In the race to build the first commercial Hyperloop network, Hyperloop One was deemed to have gotten a major headstart following Virgin’s purchase of a majority stake in the company last year.

Now called Virgin Hyperloop One and with the backing of billionaire Richard Branson, the company has announced the signing of a deal with the Spanish government to open its first European development centre.

Valued at approximately €500m, the centre will be based in the Andalusia region with €126m in public backing through loans and grants.

More specifically, it will be in the village of Bobadilla just outside of Malaga, now a major epicentre of transportation and aerospace companies.

Virgin Hyperloop One estimates that it will hire between 200 and 300 high-tech roles for the 19,000 sq metre centre when it opens in 2020.

Once operational, it will develop, test, and certify components and subsystems to improve the safety and reliability of Hyperloop systems.

Meeting global demand

“We’ve already been testing and improving our technology for the last four years, including building the only full-scale Hyperloop system in the world,” said Josh Giegel, co-founder and CTO of Virgin Hyperloop One.

“Ultimately, the centre will help us deliver upon our first projects and scale to meet future demand around the world.”

Meanwhile, the Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias (Administration of Railway Infrastructure, a Spanish state-owned railway infrastructure manager) said in a statement: “The location of the centre in our country will lead to important high-value commercial opportunities and will boost economic growth in the region.”

The news comes a few weeks after Elon Musk’s SpaceX announced the winners of its own Hyperloop competition which pits teams of engineering students from across the world against one another to design and build a working Hyperloop pod.

Among them was the Irish team, Éirloop, who travelled to the competition with big intentions.

Despite not winning the grand prize, the team spoke of their elation at the fact they walked away with an innovation prize for their hard work.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic