Drone firm Wingcopter descends on Sub-Saharan Africa
German-based drone delivery firm Wingcopter is expanding into Sub-Saharan Africa after raising $42 million (R672 million) from investors to scale operations.
With the fresh funding, Wingcopter says it will be able to further expand its drone delivery services globally and ramp up production of the “world’s most efficient eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] delivery drone” − the Wingcopter 198.
The latest funding is from German retailer REWE Group, as well as German investors Salvia and XAI Technologies, which have now joined the board as new shareholders.
Other investors include Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU and previous backers Futury Capital from Germany and Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital.
Wingcopter says drone delivery has gained enormous momentum globally, and the company has since penned a partnership agreement with Continental Drones that will see 12 000 drones deployed over the next years to deliver goods throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
The company has had a presence in Malawi since 2019, where it says it will now be expanding its network operations with new Wingcopter 198 drones and more hubs.
In SA, drones are increasingly being used to help with security issues, including fighting rhino poaching.
Last week, the South African Police Service announced plans to make use of drones across the country to fight crime.
The Department of Tourism also has a roadmap to deploy drones in Cape Town at Table Mountain to ensure the safety of those visiting the tourist site.
Commenting on Wingcopter’s new funding and expansion plans, co-founder and CEO Tom Plümmer says: "At Wingcopter, we create efficient and sustainable drone solutions to save and improve lives. For this, we are hiring passionate pioneers with whom we build what has not existed before.
"The new funding, combined with growing revenues, puts us in an excellent position to establish our industry-leading drone delivery solution with our customers around the globe to optimise supply chains."
For the investors, Christoph Eltze, executive board member for digital, customer and analytics and IT at REWE Group, adds: "REWE Group is one of the most innovative companies in German retail. For years, we have relied on strong partnerships with innovation leaders, especially in emerging trends. With Wingcopter, we have found such a new partner.”
"With its disruptive technology and highly-motivated team, Wingcopter has the potential to become a frontrunner in the drone delivery space," says Helmut Jeggle, founder and managing partner of Salvia.
“In the face of global challenges such as climate change, innovative companies such as Wingcopter are needed to lead an industry like logistics into a sustainable, more efficient future. We are pleased to accompany this success story from now on as an investor and sparring partner.”
Enis Ersü, managing owner of XAI Technologies, comments: "We are excited to join the Wingcopter team on their way to the next growth milestones as a leader in drone delivery logistics.
“Being an investor and a technology partner at the same time, our team is very much looking forward to generating further business potential by integrating advanced key technologies and operational excellence together with the management."