Irish drone delivery Manna secures $25 million investment

Drone delivery start-up Manna raises $25m ahead of major expansion Irish company founded by Bobby Healy looking to be in multiple markets by 2023

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Irish drone delivery Manna secures $25 million investment www.financialstand.com

Irish drone delivery company Manna has secured a $25 million (€20.7 million) investment as it looks to scale the business to operate in multiple markets by 2023.

Founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Bobby Healy, Manna has developed aviation-grade drones that fly at 80km/h and deliver goods including groceries, takeaways, and medicines, within a three-kilometre radius in less than three minutes.

The company has been doing about 100 deliveries a day as part of a trial in Oranmore, Co Galway since last October and is to expand to another Irish location shortly.

Mr. Healy said he is hopeful that consumers living in suburban locations across Europe will soon be able to avail of the service as new legislation comes in that is likely to radically alter last-mile deliveries.

Dublin and London-based venture capital firm Draper Esprit has led the Series A funding round with participation from DST Global and Team Europe, which was founded by Lukasz Gawoski, chief executive of German-headquartered takeaway service provider, Delivery Hero.

Existing investors Dynamo Ventures, Atlantic Bridge, and Elkstone were also involved.

Manna has already signed partnerships with a number of major brands and retailers including Tesco, Samsung, and Just Eat. Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr. Healy said Manna would use the new funding to help it prepare for new EU regulations expected to be passed into law in two years’ time.

“From 2023 onwards, across Europe, we’ll be ready to enable businesses in suburban towns to have physical products delivered to customers from as far away as 50 square kilometres within three minutes,” he said.

Mr. Healy said that, while Europe is the priority, the company has also just hired a new head of US operations as Manna begins exploring opportunities in North America.

“Our biggest competition in drones is (Google parent) Alphabet and Amazon but this is a trillion-plus dollar opportunity so I’m happy to share the market with those two players,” Mr. Healy added.

Manna expects to need further investment ahead of its launch in other markets, but Mr. Healy said getting Draper Esprit on board as a backer sent an important message out to the market about the value of its proposition.

Draper Esprit, which has been an investor in Irish tech companies over the years, said Manna is a great example of a company that has the potential to change how we live.

The listed VC, which this week announced its portfolio is due to exceed €1 billion, has previously backed Irish companies such as Sweepr and Roomex, as well as well-known international names such as Revolut, Wise (formerly TransferWise), and UiPath.

Chief executive Martin Davies said the VC was a long-time backer with the deep pockets necessary to make it possible to take a bet on an early-stage company such as Manna.

“We as a firm have a good DNA in being comfortable placing bets on businesses that might be out of the comfort zone of others. That is within our investment remit, added Nicola McClafferty, investment partner at Draper Esprit in Dublin.

She said that although it is still early days, drone delivery has matured quickly, thanks in part to the work Manna has done in demonstrating how viable it is, not just in terms of technical achievement, but also as a commercial proposition.

“We fundamentally believe that drones will have a core role to play in the future of last-mile deliveries. While there are regulatory hurdles, Manna has done an excellent job in cultivating good relationships with authorities and accelerating acceptance of it generally,” she added.

Ms. McClafferty said Draper Esprit was continuing to evaluate other prospects in the local market with the VC typically making at least one investment a year in Ireland.

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