VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing), is gaining widespread popularity worldwide due to its ability to revolutionise air travel. With VTOL technology, aircraft can take off and land vertically, eliminating the need for runways and making air travel faster and more efficient.
Consequently, it has caught the attention of investors, and entrepreneurs, leading to a surge in research and development of VTOL vehicles. One such company that made headlines recently is Switzerland-headquartered Wingtra.
Wingtra is one of the world’s largest producers of commercial vertical take-off and landing drones. To accelerate its growth, the Zurich-based firm secured $22M in funding in a Series B funding round.
The investors who backed the round include DiamondStream Partners, EquityPitcher Ventures, Verve Ventures, the European Innovation Council Fund (EIC Fund), ACE & Company, John L. Steffens (founder of Spring Mountain Capital), and some of the most successful Swiss Entrepreneurs. To date, the company has raised $55M in funding.
As Wingtra secured funding, we at TFN got an opportunity to interview Maximilian Boosfeld, founder and CEO of Wingtra to know about the birth of Wingtra, fund utilisation, and much more.
With this funding round, Wingtra intends to accelerate growth, product innovation, and the management team.
Talking about it, Boosfeld says, “We will follow our mission to support our customers in becoming more cost-effective and sustainable. Our current offerings are a good start to build upon. Based on those we will continue to improve our solutions and add new features.”
From papers to reality
Wingtra is the brainchild of four young entrepreneurs — Maximilian Boosfeld (CEO), Basil Weibel (VP Growth), Elias Kleimann (CFO), and Sebastian Verling (lead engineer), created in the Autonomous Systems Lab of ETH Zurich.
Boosfeld shares, “I co-authored the thesis paper, titled “Towards Robust Operation of VTOL Tailsitters”, with my co-founders at Autonomous Systems Lab at ETH Zurich, Switzerland. The paper proposed a novel design for a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could take off and land vertically like a helicopter but then transition to a fixed-wing mode for efficient, long-range flight.”
“During the work on the thesis, we registered Wingtra as a company to develop and commercialise the technology proposed in the paper. We got accepted into the Wyss Zurich accelerator program, which is an incubator focused on transferring scientific breakthroughs from the university (ETH Zurich or the University of Zurich) into making this technology accessible to society through entrepreneurship,” he adds.
Making surveying professionals life easier
Wingtra manufactures professional mapping drones and develops the software for fully autonomous flights and the WingtraPilot app operates the combined solution for reliable, fast, and accurate collection and processing of aerial survey data.
The drones are making it easier for surveying professionals in industries like construction and infrastructure, mining, environmental monitoring, agriculture and
urban planning, and land management to digitise their surrounding world.
“During the time with the accelerator, we refined and tested the technology, which ultimately led to the development of the WingtraOne drone, a professional mapping and surveying UAV that uses vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology,” says Boosfeld.
WingtraOne: Wingtra’s signature drone
According to the Swiss company, WingtraOne can take off and land almost anywhere, even in confined spaces or on rough terrain enabling widespread data collection.
As per the company’s claims, it is being used by hundreds of businesses and organisations, including CEMEX, Rio Tinto, Army Corps of Engineers, and Kenya Red Cross spread across 96 countries.
The drones conduct over 100,000 flights annually, having mapped 18 million acres of land and sea (the equivalent of 13.6M football fields).
WingtraOne Gen II
The company released its second generation drone in 2021, the WingtraOne Gen II drone which offers superior survey grade 2D and 3D maps to help users of the data make better decisions.
It integrates the highest quality sensors in top-end RGB cameras to create 3D models, helping make digital twins at scale such that a single flight covering over 100 hectares can be digitised at 0.5 in/px.
Compared to terrestrial surveying this is up to 30 times faster and 90% cheaper.
Currently, Wingtra employs close to 200 people, has offices in Zurich (Headquarters in Switzerland), Fort Lauderdale (US), and Zagreb (Croatia) and quarterly revenues are multi-million USD.
DiamondStream Partners Dean Donovan said, “We are very excited about partnering with Wingtra. The product’s simplicity of use, its high reliability engineering, and the company’s global network of value-added resellers and service providers have positioned it to expand its leadership in the $83+ Billion mapping segment of the aerial intelligence market globally. We look forward to helping the company in the United States and Latin America, which will be increasingly important geographies as Wingtra continues to expand.”
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