Silicon Valley-targeting Lilium obtains £69.6mn to fund 'flying taxi'
German startup Lilium is eyeing Silicon Valley after raising £69.6mn worth of Series B funding for its ambitious 'flying taxi' concept.
Investors including Chinese major technology player Tencent are throwing their weight behind Lilium's plans to bring their five-seater electric aircraft to market in the next decade.
Lilium, founded in 2015, announced the project in April following the successful test trial of a two-seater equivalent capable of vertical take-off and landing.
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With a current staff consisting of 70 people, the company will be using its newly-acquired funding to double its workforce in order to achieve its target of undergoing a manned test in 2019.
“The concept goes far beyond what you typically see from German startups,” said Remo Gerber, named Lilium’s chief commercial officer last month.
Other investors in Lilium's vision include Europe's largest family-based investment firm LGT and Atomico, another high-profile investor from the continent.
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.