U.K.-based drone operator and manufacturer Dronamics raised $40 million in pre-Series A funding from venture capital funds and angel investors to develop the company’s Black Swan cargo drones.
Investors in the funding round include Founders Factory, Speedinvest, SeedBlink, Eleven Capital and the Tawazun Council, an independent government organization based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, according to a recent release.
With its investment, the Tawazun Council’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF) will create a UAE-based joint venture designed to expand Dronamics’ capacity in the country and make the UAE a hub for Middle East and North Africa operations. Under the agreement, the SDF will support Dronamics through “significant investment” in manufacturing and operations, the release stated.
The investment mainly will fund research and development for Black Swan drones, namely for prototyping and flight test programming, as well as setting up a droneport infrastructure, a Dronamics spokesperson told Air Cargo Next.
The fixed-wing Black Swan can carry up to 350 kg of cargo up to 1,349 nautical miles, with up to 60% lower emissions than traditional airfreight, according to the company’s website.
Europe and EMEA to benefit
The company’s launch market for commercial operations remains in Europe — beginning in the Mediterranean — a focus that hasn’t changed since the SDF investment, the spokesperson said.
“We are looking ahead to other markets and the [Middle East North Africa] region is one in particular where cargo drone solutions like ours can have big potential,” they added.
In addition to the pre-Series A funding, Dronamics also received $2.7 million in grant funding from the European Commission in November 2022 under the selective deep-tech European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program. The EIC also added a contribution of $13.45 million in equity investment in support of the latest funding round, the spokesperson said.
“The support from the European Innovation Council, announced in November, is a testament to the impact that cargo drone logistics can have on the European Union economy at large,” the Dronamics spokesperson said. “The grant will support the development and rollout of Dronamics’ cargo drone fleet, the deployment of the first droneports in our network as well as operations in Europe.”
In May 2022, Dronamics became the first cargo drone operator to obtain an operational license in Europe with the European Union’s Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator Certificate for its Black Swan drones. Since then, the company has been developing the drones for commercial use.
In October 2022, the company partnered with fuel developer Zero Petroleum to purchase alternative sustainable aviation fuel for its drones. The Zero Synavgas fuel, a fossil-free direct replacement made from hydrogen and carbon, is being used for Dronamics’ test flight program.
Dronamics partnered with aerospace engineering firm Quickstep last month to develop the Black Swan drones at Quickstep’s Bankstown Aerodrome facility in Australia. The agreement, valued between $4.5 million and $5.5 million, will see delivery of three aircraft by October and the remaining seven by July 2024.