The European Innovation Council has selected electric aircraft developer VoltAero to receive funding under the European Union’s Green Deal Strategy and Recovery Plan. Initially, the French start-up will receive a grant of €2.1 million ($3 million), and it is also now eligible to receive “blended financing” of up to €11 million that would include an equity portion.
The money will support the development of VoltAero’s Cassio family of four- to ten-seat hybrid-electric fixed-wing aircraft. Earlier this year, the company started flight testing a technology demonstrator and aims to achieve type certification and service entry by early 2023.
The plan is part of a wider €7.5 billion Next Generation EU initiative providing support to companies and organizations to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. Major aerospace groups, such as Airbus, have also received funding.
A jury appointed by the European Innovation Council assessed funding requests from 2,077 companies. VoltAero was among those that received a “seal of excellence” based on its aviation knowledge and experience, business model, commercial analysis, and team motivation.
VoltAero, which was founded by Jean Botti, the former Airbus chief technology officer, recently announced partnerships with airport infrastructure group Edeis and aerostructures specialist Sonaco. It intends to build the Cassio aircraft at a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France, where it is based. Partners in North America and Asia may be offered the chance to produce the aircraft under license in these regions.
“The European Innovation Council supports visionary entrepreneurs who create transformative solutions to pressing societal and environmental challenges, supporting the Green Deal and the Recovery Plan for Europe,” said Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth. “These start-ups and SMEs are set to scale up, creating jobs and growth, and giving Europe the global lead in green technologies and solutions.”