Institutional investors back AMSL Aero’s hydrogen-powered Vertiia technology in $23m raise

Institutional investors back AMSL Aero’s hydrogen-powered Vertiia technology in $23m raise

AMSL Aero founders Andrew Moore and Siobhan Lyndon

Australia’s passenger drone industry has been given a $23 million boost from institutional investors through a capital raising that Sydney-based aerospace start-up AMSL Aero says will take its hydrogen-powered Vertiia prototype closer to commercial production.

The Series A investment round was supported by private equity investors St Baker Energy Investment Fund and IP Group, as well as Telstra Super and Hostplus.

The investment is a significant show of faith in the electric vertical take-off and landing technology (eVTOL) being developed by AMSL Aero, a company founded and led by Andrew Moore and Siobhan Lyndon.

The company’s Vertiia prototype is said to be the world’s most efficient eVTOL powered by clean electricity and hydrogen fuel, with the capacity to fly up to 1,000km. The prototype has been developed by Moore, an aeronautical engineer and pilot with more than 20 years’ experience in the aerospace industry.

Moore tells Business News Australia the $23 million capital raise will be applied to the building of the hydrogen Vertiia prototype and its flight test program.

“(It will also support) commencement and progression of our certification process, supporting the growth of our commercial team, and building our future revenue pipeline for the civil sector,” he says.

The St Baker Energy Investment Funds, an investment group led by Trevor St Baker, has invested $5 million as part of the $23 million raise. The group has already shown an appetite for EV technology with its portolfio including fast-charge technology firm Tritium, battery technology company Novonix (ASX: NVX) and charging station provider Evie Networks.

St Baker Energy Innovation Fund is said to have been attracted to AMSL because of its innovative approach to design and go-to-market strategy.

The fund's CEO Rodger Whitby cites AMSL Aero’s ‘extraordinary progress’ in developing clean and green electric aircraft of the future.

“The founders are pioneers of the electric aircraft industry in Australia and are at the forefront of Australia’s future fleet of energy-efficient air transport options,” Whitby explains.

“Whilst operating in a competitive space, AMSL Aero has a clear pathway to market, which does not rely heavily on yet to be proven technological advancements.

“AMSL Aero’s eVTOL technology is world class, holding its own against international competition and guided by Andrew and Siobhan, AMSL Aero is well on the way to flying certified flights in coming years.”

The AMSL Aero investment is the first for the St Baker fund in the aerospace sector, but Whitby says it complements other ‘e-mobility’ investments in its portfolio.

“The investment fits well alongside battery technology (Novonix), DC fast chargers (Tritium) and charge point operator (Evie), which will all play a role in providing the infrastructure to launch a successful eVTOL industry,” he says.

ASML’s Vertiia employs patented technology with a unique aerodynamic and structural design as well a hydrogen and fuel cells.

It is designed for a cruising speed of 300km per hour and to travel 250km completely on battery power. Moore hopes to extend the range to more than 1,000km using hydrogen-charged fuelling.

The NSW Government awarded AMSL Aero a $950,000 grant in 2020 to enable construction of a testing facility at Narromine’s Aerodrome, where the company conducts test flights. At the time, the goal was to achieve certification by the end of 2023.

ASML is expecting a further Series C round to fund the company’s progress to type certification and production establishment for Vertiia.

“In order to deliver a commercial product, we first need to obtain type certification, which requires the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to deem that it meets the respective safety requirements,” says Moore.

“Once we have our Type Certificate, the aircraft can be commercially operated where helicopters fly today.”

While Vertiia will be appealing to likes of the Australian Defence Force and Careflight, Moore and Lyndon are also setting their sights on the passenger market.

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