European Union is very committed to working together with authorities and the business communities of Bangladesh for further development – Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of Representation of the EU Commission in Lisbon

Report by Humayun Kabir from Lisbon,Portugal .The European Investment Bank (EIB) has signed a venture loan agreement of €30 million with Skydweller SL to further develop and scale up the production of its solar-powered uncrewed autonomous aircraft for civil and security applications. The loan agreement, backed by the InvestEU programme, was signed by EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix and Skydweller CEO and Co-founder Robert Miller at the Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon.

The EIB financing will support innovation and growth investments, mainly in Spain and Italy, where the company will further develop and produce the most sophisticated, commercially viable and sustainably powered aircraft for applications across both the civil and security sectors. The operation is part of the EU Bank’s Strategic European Security Initiative (SESI), highlighting EIB’s support to the EU’s defence and security sectors.

The Skydweller aircraft will be suitable for a wide range of services such as telecommunications, intelligence and surveillance, for instance for humanitarian relief applications. This autonomous aircraft enables a new class of capabilities for telecommunications and remote sensing. Capable of carrying large payloads up to 400 kg, the battery and solar-powered propellers enable the Skydweller aircraft to remain airborne for much longer periods compared to traditional uncrewed autonomous aircraft.

Skydweller SL is a subsidiary of transatlantic aerospace company Skydweller Aero Inc., an international startup with offices in the United States and European operations headquarters in Spain. It employs more than 80 high-tech engineers in Madrid. Production will take place in Italy in cutting-edge composite manufacturing facilities, with current European flight test operations in Castilla-La Mancha (Spain).

The operation falls under InvestEU’s research, innovation and digitalisation policy area. The programme will support SESI and the ‘A Drone Strategy 2.0 for a Smart and Sustainable Unmanned Aircraft Eco-System in Europe’ initiative.

“We are very pleased to support Skydweller’s next generation of sustainably powered aircraft, thus contributing to the development of a zero-emissions aerospace industry. The project is also the latest example of how the EIB is leveraging the InvestEU programme to support and scale up ventures focused on deep tech innovation and digital technologies contributing to economic growth, decarbonisation, competitiveness and European strategic autonomy,” stated EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix.

European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni said: “Developing innovative products requires funding – and this is where InvestEU can play a key role. I am delighted that, with this agreement, InvestEU will support investment in high-tech green and aerospace technologies, showing that advancing innovation and contributing to the green transition can go hand in hand.”

“The genesis of this aircraft and the vision to build a solar-powered aircraft platform capable of achieving perpetual flight operations with heavy payloads began in Europe. This EIB financing will enable us to take it to the rest of the world. The engineering expertise which we have in Spain is some of the best I have ever seen — they are a crucial part of the continuing journey of this aircraft and the wealth of engineering investment that it represents. The perfect safety record of our aircraft, proven performance in a wide variety of environmental conditions, conversion to cutting-edge autonomous flight control systems and our world-class team are the winning combination to make solar-powered, perpetual flight a reality,” said Skydweller CEO and Co-founder Robert Miller.

Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of Representation of the European Union Commission in Lisbon, spoke to the reporter.

Replying to a question about investment in Bangladesh, the Head of the European Union Commission’s Representation in Lisbon Sofia Moreira de Sousa said, EU projects being financed in Bangladesh what is for sure is that the green transition it is at one of the priorities of the European Union and it’s well reflected in our relations with third countries global gateway offers a wide range of projects wherewe try to involve the private sector but working very closely with the national governments in third countries and different authorities in order to implement green projects that bring about development in our partner countries so there’s a lot of thing in particular I know that in Asia there’s a great attention being given lately for disjointing Neighbors what  we aim at is of course to attract the private sector and the Investments and from European commission point of view is to leverage with guarantees and with the financial support as well of this great big projects that will bring about the changes on the ground but if you want to be very happy to take your details and and revert to  the colleagues dealing with relations completely with Bangladesh and provide you with a list of the projects that have been worked or that I’ve been implemented there.

Sofia Moreira de Sousa, Head of Representation of the European Union Commission in Lisbon, spoke to the reporter.

Replying to another question about investment in climate action projects in Bangladesh she added that, we are investing in each other as we discussed here today, the green transition and the fight against the climate change is one of the big priorities of European commission and the European Union and obviously is this translated in the relations with third parties. we are very aware of the attention that Bangladesh is being paying to that and surely working together concrete projects and the concrete opportunities have to be discussed with the colleagues that are in the Diplomatic mission of European union in Dhaka .

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