Proxima Fusion, a Munich-based startup focused on developing emission-free fusion power plants, has secured a total of €7.5M with an extension to its pre-seed round of funding.
Fusion energy, harnessed by power generated by fusing two lighter nuclei into a heavier one, releases energy that can be captured and used to power homes, industries, and entire nations.
Investors in this round
The company attracted investments from unicorn founders with a track record of scaling tech businesses over $1B, as well as family offices and industry leaders in Europe.
The round was led by deep tech investors Plural Platform and UVC Partners. It also saw participation from new investors including Visionaries Tomorrow, Hummingbird Collective, Achleitner Ventures, Bosch Holding, FlixFounders fund, and a pool of angel investors.
“Designing optimised stellarator fusion reactors”
Proxima Fusion, founded in January 2023, is a spin-out company from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP).
Founded by experts from Max Planck IPP, MIT, and Google-X, the startup aims to create a high-performance stellarator, building on the success of its W7-X, the world’s most advanced stellarator.
Stellarators use external coils to create a twisting magnetic field, providing plasma control without relying on the induction of electric currents within the plasma, as is the case with tokamaks.
Proxima Fusion is focused on conceptualising a stellarator power plant, addressing critical components for the demanding conditions of an energy-producing fusion device. Their simulation-first strategy utilises modeling to enhance cost-effectiveness and accelerate the R&D cycle.
The company says, “Currently, we are placing a major effort into combining both physics and engineering design constraints into our stellarator optimisation framework, called “Starfinder”.”
Proxima Fusion also aims to demonstrate net-energy production capabilities by 2031 and develop a fusion power plant in the 2030s.
In its initial months, the startup has already recruited top talent, including scientists and engineers from renowned institutions like TUM, EPFL, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. Industry leaders from Tesla and Google have also joined the team.
These experts are relocating to Munich to contribute to the development of the first commercial fusion power plant using the QI stellarator approach, aiming to establish a sustainable and emissions-free energy source.
Proxima Fusion is developing quasi-isodynamic (QI) stellarators, featuring zero toroidal currents for unparalleled robustness. The W7-X serves as a vital prototype and testbed.
“We believe that QI stellarators offer the clearest path to putting fusion on the grid,” says the company.
QI stellarators eliminate plasma current-driven instabilities, avoiding disruptions seen in other tokamak and stellarator designs. Additionally, they incorporate a heat exhaust concept called the island divertor, demonstrated at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics on W7-X and W7-AS.
Unicorn founders supporting Proxima
Torsten Reil, co-CEO of Helsing, an AI defence company that recently gained unicorn status, says, “Proxima’s approach to fusion is extremely well placed to lead the race to abundant, non-CO2 emitting energy. The group’s drive in executing on its roadmap has already been very impressive.”
Reil’s co-founder and Helsing President, Niklas Köhler, is also an investor and advisor to the Proxima founders.
Alberto Dalmasso, CEO of Satispay, who also invested in Proxima Fusion says, “It is clear that Proxima has the opportunity to be one of Europe’s most exciting unicorns. It’s one of those cases where our entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to come together to support an incredibly talented and promising team.”
Jochen Engert, co-founder of green transportation company Flix and investor in Proxima adds, “Proxima’s team proved to be one of the outlier cases where academic excellence meets deep entrepreneurial spirit, a match we had not seen in a while.”
“We have absolute confidence in their execution power and the impact their stellarators will have on the planet, and we are happy to support them on the way towards it.”