Paris-based AYRO, a wind propulsion system engineering & control software, announced on Tuesday, September 26, that it has secured €19.2M in a Series B round of funding.
The round was led by Blue Ocean, managed by SWEN Capital Partners, which brings the total funding of AYRO to over €30M.
Investors supporting AYRO
The round also saw investment from existing investors Ocean Zero and Bpifrance through its Ecotechnology 2 fund as part of France 2030 initiatives, along with new investors AmInvest, Colam Impact, Normandie Participations, Normandie Littoral, and FCPI Capital Innovant n°2 managed by SWEN Capital Partners.
Christian Lim, Managing Director of Blue Ocean, will join the board of AYRO.
Lim says, “Blue Ocean backs startups that can deliver both systemic impact for ocean health and competitive market returns. We studied the wind propulsion market in detail for 2 years and concluded that AYRO is clearly positioned to be a global leader in this sector.”
“Wind propulsion is critical for decarbonisation of shipping in the context of what is now being called ‘global boiling, and ambitious targets set by the International Maritime Organisation and carbon reduction regulations coming into effect across the globe.”
“The transformation of the maritime industry has begun, and we are excited about the major contribution that AYRO will make,” adds Lim.
AYRO: Everything you need to know
Founded in 2018 by Marc Van Peteghem, AYRO claims to be a leader in maritime transport decarbonisation. It designs, manufactures, and markets OceanWings, rigid wings tailored for cargo ships and yachts.
AYRO introduced the OceanWings concept inspired by the wingsail design. The OceanWings are intended to drastically reduce CO2 emissions by significantly decreasing fossil fuel consumption in the maritime sector.
Prototypes and demonstrations, including the Energy Observer zero-emission Catamaran, validated the high-performance wingsail design across different oceans.
The company says that the latest generation of OceanWings used on the Canopée vessel is a substantial advancement in scale (40 metres high / 363 m2), ease of use (fully automated), and overall maturity of the solution, marking a significant step forward in green maritime technology.
Marc Van Peteghem says, “For centuries sails were used in maritime trade. When coal started being used in the 19th century, transport vessels continued to need sails because they could not transport enough coal to cross oceans.”
“Now that we need to abandon oil with its high energy density as the single source of power for ships, wind will be an essential component, alongside other technologies, to create hybrid zero-emission ships in the coming years,” adds Peteghem.
Receiving funds at the right time
AYRO says it has secured the funding at a crucial time when climate change is a pressing issue. The maritime sector is projected to contribute up to 17 per cent of human CO2 emissions by 2050 if no action is taken.
Emmanuel Schalit, AYRO’s new CEO, says, “Every year, some 90,000 ships transport nine billion tons of goods globally, accounting for almost 90 per cent of all logistics flows. Reducing the emissions of these ships is an urgent priority.”
“The good news is that wind is free, available on every ocean, and the technology to harness it is now mature and available,” adds Schalit.
In July, the company reached a milestone by outfitting the Canopée, a vessel dedicated to transporting Ariane 6 space launch system components, with 4 OceanWings 363 wingsails.
This innovative installation is projected to reduce the vessel’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 30 per cent on its regular route from Europe to French Guiana.
In a recent development, Marc Van Peteghem, the former CEO of AYRO, will maintain his involvement with the company as the Chairman of the Board.
Emmanuel Schalit, who has been the Chairman of the Board since 2022, has been named as the new CEO, taking over from Marc.
Additionally, Romain Grandsart will join the company as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). These leadership changes reflect a strategic transition in AYRO’s management team.
Schalit, who previously led Dashlane as co-founder and CEO for nine years, has joined AYRO’s board. During his tenure at Dashlane, he oversaw substantial growth and secured over $200M in funding.
Schalit says, “Having worked with Marc, Romain and the rest of the board over the last 18 months, I know how exceptional the team is: they enabled the building of the most advanced wind-powered transport vessel in history in just 24 months.”
“I am honoured to have been offered the opportunity to join as CEO and am looking forward to helping scale the company to its massive potential,” adds Schalit.