Wingcopter in Darmstadt has won up to €3m in a funding competition run by the German government for a drone assembly and delivery project to help tackle the Covid-19 outbreak in Malawi.
The company is one of nine winners of the €24m #SmartDevelopmentHack run by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with backing from the European Commission (through EuropeAid), GIZ, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Smart Africa, Technical University Munich, Oracle, SAP, and others. Each winning team will be awarded up to €3m to implement the project over the next 18 months.
Deliveries by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are highly dependent on the power system to provide both flexibility with vertical take off designs and an effective range for the deliveries, leaving enough power to operate a winch and return to base. After two intense days of hacking, Wingcopter with its partners UNICEF and the African Drone & Data Academy (ADDA) showed how Wingcopter drones can improve health supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic and to open up new long-term opportunities for youth in Africa. The funds granted will be split between Wingcopter and UNICEF/ADDA.
The project will set up a locally operated delivery drone network in Malawi to support the local healthcare system, giving on-demand access to medical supplies such as Covid-19 test kits or vaccines (once available). In parallel, the partners will build local capacity through two distinct training programs for 160 Malawian young people. Wingcopter will develop a virtual educational platform and provide selected students with applicable technical equipment and pre-installed software that requires no internet connection. By learning to assemble, operate, and maintain Wingcopter drones accompanied with data analytics skills provided by ADDA, Malawians will be equipped with the tools to pursue new entrepreneurial or job opportunities, granting them new economic perspectives.
After proving the concept’s viability and successful implementation in Malawi, Wingcopter and UNICEF plan to adapt the concept and scale to Rwanda.
“Wingcopter’s long-term strategy involves developing a sustainable