Skyports, a U.K.-based developer of infrastructure for urban air mobility, has announced £5.35 million (US$6.91 million) in Series A funding.
The funding round was jointly led by Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures (DBDV) and Groupe ADP, according to a press release. It also includes new funding from Levitate Capital following that venture firm’s seed investment in the company in January 2018.
Skyports said the capital will allow it to continue acquiring sites for passenger and cargo vertiports in cities including Singapore and Los Angeles, and to further develop its drone delivery business. Meanwhile, Groupe ADP — a developer and manager of major airports — said the strategic partnership will help it develop a deeper understanding of the emerging VTOL market.
“Vertical take-off and landing vehicles are a new expression of airport activity — infrastructure, vehicle handling, and passenger experience,” stated Edward Arkwright, deputy CEO of Groupe ADP, which is already partnering with Airbus on a feasibility study to demonstrate VTOL aircraft at the 2024 Olympic games in Paris. “We are setting ourselves up to play a leading role in the development of urban air mobility in the Paris region and internationally through our 25 airports worldwide.”
With their investment in Skyports, DBDV and Groupe ADP will also take seats on the company’s board. Skyports has the option for a second close in the Series A round in the near future.
In October, Skyports collaborated with Volocopter to exhibit a passenger vertiport concurrent with the eVTOL developer’s recent flight demonstration in Singapore. That “VoloPort” was only a temporary structure, but allowed the company to gain valuable feedback from regulators and the public “about what worked, what didn’t work,” Skyports CEO Duncan Walker told the recent TexasUP gathering.
Identifying suitable real estate is one of the principal challenges in developing infrastructure for urban air mobility, Walker said in his TexasUP presentation: “These vertiports tend to scale up to be quite big, quite quickly. . . . There’s not that many buildings that can accommodate that in the places you most want to be, which is dense urban environments.”
He pointed out, however, that the scarcity of prime vertiport sites is also an opportunity in that it gives first movers “a very defensive business.” In announcing Skyports’ Series A funding, Walker further emphasized the importance of moving quickly in this emerging market.
“Our investors bring expertise in mobility, infrastructure, and airport operations,” he stated. “Their significant balance sheets and strong leadership in their respective markets allow Skyports to consolidate its leading position in the industry in these early stages and through to permanent commercial operations in multiple markets.”