Starship Technologies in Estonia has raised €50m from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in a ‘quasi-equity’ deal to keep the company in the region.
The venture loan from the European Fund for Strategic Investments will be used for research and development, including the building of thousands more robots at Starship’s engineering and innovation facility in Tallinn. The robots have been rolling out in Europe, the UK and US since 2018.
Starship has raised a total of $155m (€137m) so far from investors including from Skype founding engineer Jaan Tallinn, Daimler, Morpheus Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Matrix Partners, MetaPlanet, Grishin Robotics, ZX Ventures and Playfair Capital
Presumably the quasi-equity element of the loan means it reverts to shares in time, and gives the EIB a say in the future of the company. This follows a push for more investment in startups via the European Investment Council (EIC).
“We’re proud of our European roots as well as the growing team there that remains a vital part of our operations,” said Alastair Westgarth, CEO, Starship Technologies. “As the market leader in autonomous delivery we are constantly looking to innovate and find new ways to improve our service. This backing from the EIB will help enable us to continue to reshape last-mile delivery and bring the benefits of on demand delivery and convenience to millions more people. The additional engineering resources that we will hire in Europe will be another key component in making this possible.”
“Electric vehicles in all shapes and sizes will be part of our future, and can be a key part in the sustainable transport puzzle,” said EIB Vice-President Thomas Östros. “Starship’s delivery robots are already proving their worth, and we are glad to support the company so that they can continue to develop their technology and scale-up their production.”
“This EIB funding for Starship is a great example of how the Investment Plan for Europe can boost innovation in Europe. The additional funding will benefit the development of the company’s autonomous delivery services, thereby further improving services for consumers and contributing to Europe’s ever-growing and vibrant research, technology and innovation ecosystem,” said Paolo Gentiloni, EU Commissioner for the Economy.
Starship is able to do Level 4 autonomous deliveries everywhere it operates, across a campus or a city, with a video remote control link back to the HQ in Tallinn in the event of a problem. On a daily basis Starship robots will complete numerous deliveries in a row 100 percent autonomously, including road crossings.
The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, customers choose from a range of their favourite food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. The user can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app.
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