AYRO raises €10.5M to boost development of wingsail technology

AYRO raises €10.5M to boost development of wingsail technology
A tanker fitted with Oceanwings

AYRO, a start-up that designs and delivers wind propulsion hybrid systems for maritime transport has raised €10.5 million capital from Ocean Zero (USA), Bpifrance (France) and Mer Invest (France).

AYRO designs, manufactures and sells Oceanwings, a wingsail technology that has proven to decrease fuel consumption on cargo ships by as much as 45 per cent. The funds raised in this investment round will be used to boost Oceanwings development and industrialisation, to start up a production facility in Caen-Blainville, Normandy, and to reinforce sales and marketing.

AYRO’s patented technology was originally developed by VPLP Design for the BMW Oracle racing sailboat that won the America’s Cup competition in 2010. Following a prototype from 2017 that tested the Oceanwings concept, two wings were installed on the catamaran Energy Observer in 2019. The boat is a floating laboratory that has been sailing around the world for the past 2 years promoting new propulsion technologies with zero harmful emissions.

Last year, AYRO signed a major contract for four Oceanwings363 wingsails to be fitted on the ro-ro Canopée. The vessel is under construction and will be chartered by ArianeGroup when it launches next year.

“Chris Anderson, curator of the TED Conferences, created Ocean Zero to identify and support new innovative companies that have the potential to be game-changers in reducing maritime CO2 emissions, which are large contributors to climate change. AYRO is exactly such a company, employing world-class leading technology to assist ships at sea in significantly reducing fuel consumption. The AYRO system is simple, proven, computer controlled, and safe. I have long admired Marc Van Peteghem’s brilliance in combining old-fashioned ideas, like wind propulsion, with sophisticated aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, not to mention brilliant software, to help Mother Nature make ships go faster more efficiently. It is an honour and a pleasure to be part of this effort. The day is soon coming when it will be normal to once again see large ships at sea cruising effortless and beautifully along under wind power,” explained Stephen Petranek, operating partner of the lead investor, Ocean Zero fund.

Jason Bigeard, investment director at Bpi France, said: “We were particularly impressed by AYRO’s high-end technology. The environmental impact is a current topic, especially within the maritime industry. Through the ‘Plan Climat’ of Bpifrance, we assist companies in their ecological and environmental transition plan and support those with a significant impact on the environment. Thanks to recent regulations and the evolution of stakeholder awareness on environment issues, the market for hybrid wind propulsion is going to take off very soon.”

Marc Van Peteghem, co-founder and president of AYRO, added: “We are delighted to have been able to assemble this unique team of investors. They are passionate about what we do and have a deep understanding of our sector. We are looking forward to working with them to make AYRO the reference mark of the hybrid wind propulsion market”.