- This round brings the company's total private funding to over $53 million
- The round is led by Horizons Ventures, with participation from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Shell Ventures, Summa Equity, and SYSTEMIQ.
- British Airways has also joined as a new investor in this round
- As the airline industry reels from the reduction in travel due to the pandemic, sustainable aviation may be key to recovery.
CRANFIELD, United Kingdom and HOLLISTER, Calif., March 31, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Propelling their mission towards delivering airlines zero-carbon, hydrogen-fueled flight, ZeroAvia is launching the development program for a 2MW hydrogen-electric powertrain for full-size regional aircraft. The program kick-off is supported by a new raise of $24.3 million, led by Horizons Ventures, joined by a new investor British Airways. Existing investors Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ also participated in the financing. This new round accelerates the larger hydrogen-electric engine development for the 50+ seat aircraft and supports additional commercial airlines initiatives to adopt hydrogen in aviation. Today's announcement brings the company's total private investment to over $53 million and the total funding raised since inception to nearly $74 million.
This latest funding follows the announcement in December that the UK Government – through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK – had awarded a £12.3m grant ($16.3m) to deliver a breakthrough 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft that is market-ready by 2023. The company announced its $21.4 million Series A funding round at the same time, accelerating its 600kW development program scheduled for commercial entry in 2024.
"This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale," said Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia. "With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology. We are extremely grateful for our investors who are helping to speed up our progress and ultimately the aviation industry's adoption of zero-emission flight."
ZeroAvia expects to achieve commercialization for its hydrogen-electric powertrain as early as 2024. Its hydrogen aviation solutions will address various markets by initially targeting a 500-mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft used for commercial passenger transport, package delivery, agriculture, and beyond. Accelerated by this new capital infusion, ZeroAvia will also target entering the 50+ seat commercial aircraft segment by 2026.
"'Flying on jet fuel comes with an environmental cost, and finding an alternative for the aviation industry is vital. We believe ZeroAvia offers a real and practical solution for the aviation market to move towards cleaner options." says Patrick Poon from Horizons Ventures.
The round will also further derisk the company vision of powering a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030. ZeroAvia's achievements to date are the first steps in realizing the near-term transition from fossil fuels to zero-emission hydrogen as the primary source for commercial aviation.
"Innovative zero-emissions technology is advancing fast, and we support the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source because we believe it has the potential to enable us to reach true zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050," Sean Doyle, British Airways' CEO, said. "There is a huge amount of energy and excitement building around the possibilities of a zero-emissions future for aviation, and while there is no single solution to this challenge, we acknowledge the need for urgent action to tackle the impact flying currently has on our planet and are making progress on our journey to net zero."
As the company continues to scale its global operations, ZeroAvia also brings three new members to the senior team.
Christine Ourmières-Widener joins ZeroAvia's Board of Directors and brings executive experience cultivated from her time spent in top leadership at airline and travel corporations, including Vice-President and GM USA for Air France-KLM, CEO and board member of CityJet, Chief Global Sales Officer of American Express Global Business Travel and CEO of FlyBe. She previously served on the Board of Governors for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and was a Non-Executive Director for the airline retailer Datalex.
Mike Friend, a retired Boeing Senior Technology Director and consultant for Mitsubishi Aircraft, joins the Technical Advisory Board to lend his extensive aerospace technology knowledge to the powertrain development programs. In the early 2000s, he led a historic Boeing Phantom Works project in Spain, resulting in the world's first manned hydrogen-electric airplane flight. Following that, he was a chief engineer in the New Airplane Product Development team at Boeing Commercial Aircraft, playing critical roles in developing multiple vehicle concepts, including Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Mark Blair, a retired FedEx VP of Air Operations and a former Director of Fleet & Government Sales for Cessna Aircraft Company joins ZeroAvia Advisory Board to lend his extensive knowledge in package delivery applications of various sizes of aircraft. Mark is also engaged with a number of cargo and passenger operators in advisory capacities and will bring this diverse operator perspective to ZeroAvia.
ZeroAvia offers hydrogen-fueled powertrain technology to replace conventional engines in commercial aircraft. Adoption of this technology results not only in true zero-emission flight but also in lower fuel and maintenance costs. The company previously completed its first electric flight in the US in 2019, then built the second flying prototype in the UK, and conducted its first electric flight in June of 2020. In September 2020, it achieved the world's first hydrogen-electric flight of a commercial-grade aircraft. Additionally, the company just completed a ground simulation of the complete power profile for its upcoming first cross-country flight. The ground test demonstrated a full battery shutdown in-flight using the company's unique fuel cell powertrain configuration, allowing for complete removal of the battery system in the next configuration of the powertrain.
ZeroAvia is a leader in zero-emission aviation, focused on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions to address a variety of markets, initially targeting 500 mile range in 10-20 seat aircraft used for commercial passenger transport, cargo, agriculture, and more. Based in the UK and USA, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its two prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones, and is on track for commercial operations in 2024. The company's expanding UK operations are supported by grants from UK's Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government's Jet Zero Council. For more, please visit ZeroAvia.com, follow @ZeroAvia on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
About Horizons Ventures
Horizons Ventures, the private investment arm of Mr. Li Ka-shing, is a leading investor in some of the world's most innovative companies and disruptive technologies, including Facebook, Spotify, Siri, Zoom, Impossible Foods and Perfect Day. For more information, please visit http://horizonsventures.com.
About Breakthrough Energy Ventures
Backed by many of the world's top business leaders, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) invests in cutting-edge companies that will lead the world to net-zero emissions. BEV has more than $2 billion in committed capital to support bold entrepreneurs building companies that can significantly reduce emissions from agriculture, buildings, electricity, manufacturing, and transportation. BEV's strategy links government-funded research and patient, risk-tolerant capital to bring transformative clean energy innovations to market as quickly as possible.
The first fund was created in 2016 as part of the Breakthrough Energy network of initiatives and entities, which include investment funds, non-profit and philanthropic programs, and policy efforts linked by a shared commitment to scale the technologies needed to address climate change and achieve a path to net zero emissions by 2050. Visit https://www.breakthroughenergy.org/ to learn more.
About Ecosystem Integrity Fund
Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) invests in early growth-stage companies contributing to environmental sustainability across multiple sectors including renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste reduction, green chemistry, transportation, agriculture, and water. EIF takes a systems-based approach to sustainability investment, studying both the drivers for change as well as the constraints to innovation in market niches that are ripe for development. EIF invests in companies solving real problems, resulting in better investment opportunities and greater impact. For more information, visit: www.ecosystemintegrity.com.
About Summa Equity
Summa Equity is a thematic investment firm defined by a purpose-driven team that has come together to invest in companies that address some of our global challenges.
Summa Equity focuses on companies in industries supported by megatrends within three themes: Resource Efficiency, Changing Demographics and Tech-Enabled Business. The firm's investments across the three themes have the potential for long-term sustainable outperformance because they address some of the social, environmental, and business challenges we need to solve as a society.
Summa Equity have more than SEK 14 billion of assets under management. For further information on Summa Equity, please visit www.summaequity.com.
About Shell Ventures
Shell Ventures helps companies reach the next level. Established in 1996 as one of the first corporate venture funds in the oil and gas industry, Shell Ventures works with startups and Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from their early stages to their scale and growth phases. Through minority investments and strategic partnerships, Shell Ventures helps innovative companies commercialise their solutions to accelerate the energy and mobility transformation.
SYSTEMIQ is a leading specialist consulting and investment firm applying system thinking to prevent the worst effects from climate change. SYSTEMIQ focuses on clean energy, materials/circularity, and nature with three complementary business models: (a) building coalitions of actors around climate themes, publishing industry-shaping reports that outline sector transition pathways, (b) advisory services for corporates and investment managers, and (c) investments in (early venture) technologies that accelerate the transition. For further information on SYSTEMIQ, please visit www.systemiq.earth.
About British Airways
British Airways is a global airline and the UK's flag carrier, flying customers to where they need to be for more than 100 years. The airline connects Britain with the world and the world with Britain, putting customers and sustainability at its heart and providing service excellence. British Airways has a clear roadmap to meet its net zero 2050 target. More details of British Airways' sustainability strategy can be found here.