Australian medical drone logistics company Swoop Aero has closed a Series A funding round as it continues to expand globally amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a media statement, the company says it will use the latest capital injection to scale its impact “from millions to tens of millions” as it aims to provide 100 million people with better access to healthcare by 2025.
Swoop Aero will establish a presence in Australia and New Zealand, as well as expand its service offering across the medical logistics space. The funding will also serve to certify its aviation systems for operations over urban areas, which will help the business come closer to its goal.
Since its launch in 2017, Swoop Aero has established operations in five countries through partnerships with global health leaders including UNICEF, UKAid and DFID.
Most recently, it became the first company in the world to remotely pilot commercially used drones from another country, when delivering PPE and critical supplies in Malawi in south eastern Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Swoop Aero was piloting the unmanned aircraft from Australia.
Since the onset of the pandemic, in Malawi alone, the company has tripled its fleet following a rapid increase in network utilisation due to a 300 percent increase of samples carried between March and April.
“We most recently began drone operations delivering crucial medical supplies in Malawi with our pilots in South Africa and then subsequently from Australia due to heightened COVID-19 travel restrictions,” said Eric Peck, CEO and co-founder of Swoop Aero.
“Our vision is to transform the way the world moves essential supplies, and our Series A funding round will help us enable access to healthcare for 100 million people by 2025,” he said.
“As COVID-19 has shown, problems with access to much needed healthcare supplies are consistent across the globe, even in developed countries like Australia, where pathology tests take days to arrive, if they arrive at all.”
Mr Peck says one of the biggest lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to remove the red tape which limits a nation’s ability to respond quickly in emergency situations.
The company is working closely with the Australian government and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to slash red tape and enable aeromedical logistics services to be expanded across the country.
Inefficient delivery methods
“We’ve formally provided a recommendation to the government inquiry into COVID-19 that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) prioritise domestic healthcare-related aviation applications during and after the pandemic in order to enable a more effective national response and to build more resilience across the health supply chain,” says Mr Peck.
In Australia alone, five percent of pathology test samples are lost due to inefficient delivery methods, and often take up to a few weeks to return results.
Using aeromedical drone logistics to transport medicines, pathology tests and samples, reduces chances of lost tests and improves turnaround times. This enables communities in urban, rural and remote areas faster, on-demand access to testing and supplies.
Swoop Aero is also working with the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand to achieve requisite Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) approvals to transport pathology tests and samples locally via the air.
Earlier this month, Swoop Aero was named as a finalist in the XCELLENCE Awards by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI), the world’s largest non-profit dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics.