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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Aircraft Startup Secures Funding

  • Aircraft developer Zeroavia has secured the backing of the UK infrastructure bank.
  • The financing will help the company produce hydrogen fuel cell engines.
  • Zeroavia has raised more than $250m (£198.3m) in equity investments since it was founded in 2017.

Aircraft developer Zeroavia has secured the backing of the UK infrastructure bank in its latest fundraising round, as it looks to build hydrogen-electric engines for low-carbon flying.

The firm, which has bases in London, Kemble and California, said it had raised a total of $116m (£91.9m) in Series C funding from a number of investors, including £32m from the UK’s state-owned infrastructure investment bank.

Zeroavia also secured backing from Airbus, Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and the Saudi-backed NEOM Investment Fund.

The financing will help the company produce hydrogen fuel cell engines, as aviation puts its backing behind the nascent technology in the race to deliver zero-emission flights. It has set a goal of developing a 19-seat aircraft, flying distances of up to 300 miles, for commercial flying in 2025.

Zeroavia has raised more than $250m (£198.3m) in equity investments since it was founded in 2017, by chief executive Valery Miftakhov.

Miftakhov said: “This backing by such a preeminent investor as the UK Infrastructure Bank will help us deliver the first commercial zero-emission flights, and help the UK realise substantial export potential. We are looking forward to working with UKIB over the next few years.”

Ian Brown, head of banking and investments at the UK Infrastructure Bank, said: “Aviation and hydrogen are sectors that need significant private investment to get to net zero.”

“By providing confidence to investors, our equity has helped to crowd in the private investment needed for the continued development of this cutting-edge technology and should help stimulate the development and deployment of hydrogen technology across other hard-to-decarbonise sectors.” 

The government has set a target of decarbonising aviation by 2050, with clean propulsion technologies expected to start flying between UK airports by the end of this decade.

Hydrogen is among a host of technologies suggested to bring the sector’s emissions to near-zero emissions. Virgin Atlantic is set to make history this week with the first transatlantic flight using 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel, a biofuel made from food waste such as cooking oil and plants.

Bill Gates’s investment firms Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Alaska Airlines, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, AP Ventures and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund also participated in the funding round. 

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