Home Startups Zipline rival Swoop Aero raises funding to help curb COVID-19 in Africa

Zipline rival Swoop Aero raises funding to help curb COVID-19 in Africa

by Milcah Lukhanyu
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Swoop Aero, a Melbourne-based drone startup operating a fleet of drones delivering medical supplies in Malawi in a bid to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Swoop Aero, founded in 2017, received a further Venture Capital investment, co-led by venture capital firms Tempus Partners and Right Click Capital to help it commence flight operations to deliver vaccines by drone in the Équateur province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The firm said it would use the funds to fuel its growth across Africa and into Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. The firm, founded by former air force pilot Eric Peck and mechatronics engineer Josh Tepper in 2017, competes Zipline, which has been in operations in Africa longer and has been championing pan-African expansion too.

Eric Peck, CEO and Co-Founder of Swoop Aero, said, “Looking to 2020, Swoop Aero is well-positioned to continue scaling its operations and transporting essential supplies and medical samples between an increasing number of locations around the world. We’re a growing professional organisation with an unbeatable technical background. Our operations team includes former air force pilots, current commercial pilots, and leading engineers, meaning we are ideally positioned to enable access for in-need communities in locations that have previously been the hardest places to reach in the world.”

Last year, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, VillageReach and Gavi, the vaccine alliance, Swoop Aero commenced drone transport flights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) supplying life-saving vaccines and medical supplies following an Ebola outbreak in the region.

With the potential to carry vaccines and other essential medicines in remote communities, the firm is now helping curb the spread of COVID-19 by using drones to bridge the “last mile” between hard-to-reach populations and the vital healthcare products they need.

Powered by an in-house control system, leveraging high bandwidth, low-cost satellite links, the Swoop Aero drone are made of 3D-printed carbon fibre shell, commercial off-the-shelf components and use solar energy. The firm is currently working in partnership with USAID Global Health Supply Chain, UK Aid, and UNICEF in Malawi.

Swoop provides medical supplies for diseases such as AIDS but ready to carry COVID-19 test kits in Malawi and globally. One drone can carry 10 coronavirus testing kits into remote villages without risk of infection, across bad terrain.

Swoop Aero secured a multimillion-dollar investment from Australian venture capital firms Tempus Partners and Right Click Capital. Alister Coleman, Partner at Tempus Partners and Garry Visontay, Partner at Right Click Capital have both joined the Swoop Aero Board as Directors.

Right Click Capital invests in early-stage, high-growth technology businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, offering financial backing, the benefit of extensive experience in building and scaling technology businesses, and access to a global network through the Draper Venture Network.

Garry Visontay, Partner at Right Click Capital, said, “Our philosophy is to support founders who are building remarkable businesses, and work with them to make their vision a reality. Highlighted by their work in the DRC, Swoop Aero has an enormous potential to revolutionise on-demand medical care. Their unique technology enables the cost-effective delivery of essential medical services across inhospitable terrain, unpredictable waterways and mountain ranges. We’re delighted to continue supporting Eric and Josh as they grow their business and reach more of the world’s population that don’t have access to essential medical care.”

Tempus Partners, founded in 2013, has invested in revolutionary startups across the world such as Auror, HealthMatch, Ansarada and Freelancer.

In a statement, Alister Coleman, Partner at Tempus Partners, said, “Swoop Aero is an incredible company with a world class founding team. On-time delivery of pharmaceuticals and pathology across long distances holds back the progress of modern medicine, and Swoop Aero’s disruptive work across the globe, including in the DRC and Vanuatu, is re-shaping the bounds of healthcare, pathology and critical drug delivery. We are excited about the work the company is doing, and in Swoop Aero’s continued growth and expansion in the home markets of Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.”

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