Drone delivery service provider Volansi Inc. today landed $50 million in venture funding to support its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) middle-mile drone delivery platform, which could expand its existing ability to carry time-critical parts and urgent medical supplies into new applications of carrying Covid-19 vaccines.
Volansi now plans to expand its team, launch new projects, and scale up current initiatives in both emerging markets and in the U.S. The company's primary focus is providing automated, point-to-point service for enterprise customers and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The “series B” funding round was led by Icon Ventures, with additional participation from previous investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and YCombinator as well as new investors Harpoon Ventures and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund. It marks the third equity round for Volansi, bringing its total funding to $75 million. Following the deal, Icon’s managing partner, Joe Horowitz, and Lightspeed’s founding partner, Barry Eggers, will join San Francisco-based Volansi’s board of directors.
“The drone market is very crowded with all sorts of players, but after getting to know [Volansi CEO and Co-Founder Hannan Parvizian] and his team and doing an extensive amount of due diligence, especially with Volansi’s key customers and distribution partners, it became abundantly clear that the company is well-positioned to rapidly build a huge business,” Icon’s Horowitz said in a release. “We are particularly excited about Volansi’s unique ability to address the medical community with urgent vaccine delivery, particularly in looking ahead to a post-Covid world.”
The investment follows a flurry of activity in the pharmaceutical logistics sector as DHL Global Forwarding and Kuehne + Nagel recently announcing new investments to address the looming challenge of global vaccine distribution. And last month, healthcare industry logistics giant McKesson Corp. said it had been tapped to expand its existing partnership with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) team as a centralized distributor of future COVID-19 vaccines.
Other drone operators are also preparing to distribute coronavirus medical supplies, such as California drone delivery specialist Zipline International Inc., which started running flights in May for a North Carolina hospital, providing contactless distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical medical supplies.
Volansi says its platform provides fast, on-demand, aerial delivery services for time-critical shipments over long ranges. The firm’s autonomous drones include the VOLY C10, which carries up to 10 pounds of cargo over 50 miles and has already performed operations in Africa, the Caribbean, and the U.S. Another model, the VOLY M20, is a dual-role aircraft with the ability to simultaneously carry up to 20 pounds of cargo in addition to 10 pounds of sensor payloads over a 350-mile range, cruising at 75 mph for more than eight hours.
Thrilled to announce $50m in series B funding today led by @iconventures, with @lightspeedvp @ycombinator & Harpoon Ventures. Watch this space as we launch new projects, grow our team & continue to push the envelope of #drone drone delivery & logistics! https://t.co/mu0MaH25LB pic.twitter.com/iJ7aZbiH3E— Volansi (@volans_i) September 15, 2020