Germany’s Wingcopter lands €40m investment for drone delivery

12 May 2023

Image: Wingcopter

Wingcopter will use the EIB investment to ramp up production of its flagship drone and expand its services in Europe and beyond.

German drone delivery start-up Wingcopter has raised €40m thanks to funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to develop and scale its fleet of cargo drones for more accessible and sustainable logistics.

Founded in 2017 by Tom Plümmer, Jonathan Hesselbarth and Ansgar Kadura, Wingcopter manufactures and operates uncrewed drones, focusing on the delivery of medical goods as well as parcels and food.

The Hesse-based company has also been part of several small-scale humanitarian projects, such as in Malawi, where it says is has partnered with governmental organisations to deliver life-saving medicines and supplies in rural areas that are hard to reach via traditional transport.

EIB’s “quasi-equity” funding, meaning that part of it is equity and the other part is a venture loan, will help Wingcopter to improve its flagship drone, the Wingcopter 198, and obtain regulatory approval in key markets as it looks to compete with global players in the space.

The Wingcopter 198 is expected to take flight in German skies for the first time this summer, when the company launches a pilot project in southern Hesse to test the potential of on-demand transport of groceries and other consumer goods.

Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport and conducted with the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, the pilot project aims to improve local supply of deliveries in rural German communities.

“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,” said CEO Plümmer.

“It requires strong partners like the EIB to build reliable, efficient and safe delivery drone technology and logistics services.”

Ambroise Fayolle, vice-president of the EIB, said that Europe “must work hard” to maintain its global lead in the clean-tech space.

“Backing European clean-tech 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.”

Wingcopter is one of many rising drone delivery companies operating in some capacity in Europe, such as Bobby Healy’s Manna Drone Delivery and Alphabet’s Wing.

In March, Manna announced its first US trial in Dallas-Forth Worth after its success in Dublin’s Balbriggan, where it teamed up with local providers to provide fast and low-carbon deliveries to the 35,000-strong community.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic