Innovation Taking Off
This unique aerial vehicle hasn’t just impressed Wingcopter’s first users, but the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, too! The Ministry awarded Wingcopter the "Exist Founder Scholarship" worth €120,000, allowing them to concentrate entirely on business and product development. "The hybrid drone Wingcopter is the aerial vehicle of the future," declared Brigitte Zypries, the former Minister for Economic Affairs & Energy.
This glowing recognition and injection of funding have provided a strong boost to an already motivated startup: since joining the Accelerator, the team has been busy working hard on their product in the Innovation Center’s Makerspace, using the Makerspace’s rapid prototyping labs with 3D printers, laser cutters, and many more technical facilities. Plümmer describes the development process: “It’s been an exciting journey. The Accelerator has given us exactly what we need to move forward with the Wingcopter - we haven’t just benefited from the technology on offer at the Makerspace, but also from the input of the teams and experts around us in the Innovation Center. There’s a great atmosphere and a lot of opportunities to exchange ideas.” Plümmer adds that the Accelerator’s intensive coaching sessions have been key in helping the team focus on the core of their business model.
This open, creative environment has helped Wingcopter to expand the uses of their product. For example, Wingcopter’s technology can be used to support environmental protection by attaching a thermal imaging camera to spot poachers in the jungle. At the moment, the Wingcopter is being tested to see how it transports medical products and lab samples in Tanzania. It carries the products from a university hospital or medical stores to a populated island in Lake Victoria, showing how the Wingcopter could save human lives in the future. It also serves as an important tool for analyzing and predicting landslides and avalanches, which kill several thousands of people each year.
Flying at High Speed Towards the Future of Transport
What’s so unique about Wingcopter is its tiltrotor mechanism – in hover mode, the motors are placed in front of, as well as behind the wings. Each one faces upwards like the rotor of a helicopter. After take off, to transform into an efficient forward flight, all four motors can tilt 90 degrees. The construction of the tiltrotor system enables vertical take-off and landing, and efficient forward flight. This includes maximum stabilization even in bad weather conditions like rain or heavy winds. Its revolutionary construction with a wingspan of 178 cm allows the Wingcopter to reach speeds of up to 240 km/h and cover distances of up to 100 km.
A tablet serves as a ground control station to control the movements of the Wingcopter via pre-programmed GPS waypoints or an LTE network. Unlike other aerial vehicles, the Wingcopter is highly portable: it consists of six consistent parts, made from carbon fiber and glass fiber composites, and is ready to fly in only 5 minutes. Thanks to its innovative rotors, it is able to land everywhere effortlessly.
Joining the Merck Accelerator 2019
We’re always delighted to form relationships with our Accelerator participants. Wingcopter made the most of the Innovation Center’s Makerspace to work on their product and we’d love for your team to do the same! In addition to funding of up to €50,000, we’re here to offer you strong support throughout the testing and development stages of your product, office and creation space at our headquarters in Darmstadt, and access to advice from our global network of over 50,000 Merck experts. If all of this sounds good, why not apply to join the Merck Accelerator? If you’re a startup operating in Healthcare, Life Science, Performance Materials, or additional search fields then we can give you the boost your business needs. Applications for the next intake of the Merck Accelerator Program are open for the program starting in January 2019. We can’t wait to hear from you!