August 20, 2019

Our investment in Swoop Aero

By

Alister Coleman

In the year 2019, the delivery of critical pharmaceuticals and pathology is still tied to old-world transport such as single-engine boats, fixed-wing aircraft, and the humble Hyundai i30 that we’ve seen in urban centres, replete with a foam esky in the back.

In spite of the great Hyundai-Esky innovation, one-third of Australia’s population — about 7 million people — live in rural and regional areas where they do not benefit from the same high standard, and well-supported healthcare experienced in metropolitan centres.

Whilst medicine itself continues to improve dramatically, it’s a reality that the logistics of medicine remains costly, highly inefficient and prone to spoilage. This impact is felt especially by populations who live in rural, regional and remote areas with limited accessibility due to long distances, challenging terrain, and unpredictable waterways. And globally, more than 50% of the world’s population do not have access to basic medical services, in part due to the challenges posed by the cost and delays of medical logistics.

Swoop Aero is the first long-range, autonomous drone company to solve this global logistics problem.

Swoop envisions a world where everyone, everywhere, has access to basic health care. Swoop is setting a new benchmark for healthcare delivery in Australia and emerging markets, which is why Tempus is excited to announce our most recent investment in Swoop Aero.

Josh Tepper and Eric Peck, co-founders of Swoop Aero

The founders of Swoop are ideally positioned to solve this global problem with an aeronautics solution. Eric Peck studied aeronautical engineering and is a former Royal Australian Air Force Hercules pilot, while Josh Tepper is a mechatronics engineer and self-proclaimed “drone geek” who was formerly world #16 drone racing pilot. Together with an incredible team of Melbourne-based aeronautic professionals, Swoop is redefining health care delivery.

The backbone of Swoop’s network is a fleet of in-house autonomous drones, capable of travelling over 140km at 100km/h, and carrying up to 4kg of high value and temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and pathology. Each drone is piloted by Swoop’s software platform that ensures safety and speed, and live communication between each party on planned routes such as between hospitals and clinics. Whilst each drone is autonomous, the management of Swoop’s fleet is centralised, with the Swoop team using computer vision footage to facilitate “sight”, real-time data feeds from hundreds of sensors on the aircraft, an industry-grade flight warning system, and encrypted satellite communications.

Since launch, Swoop has proven the life-changing impact it can have on remote communities. In 2018, Swoop became the first company in the world to deliver vaccines by drone under a commercial contract. Over a 5 month period, Swoop aided in the vaccination of more than 500 children across 80 remote islands in partnership with UNICEF and the Vanuatu Government.

In July this year, Swoop expanded to Africa, completing a vaccine and medical supply program in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The company has conducted 50 flights covering over 2000 kilometers and delivered two months of vaccines and critical medical supplies for four health centers nestled deep in the equatorial forest.

What’s next?

At Tempus, we’re excited about founders building the next generation of ‘impossible’ - companies that change an industry in ways previously unimaginable. With Vanuatu up and running and a program completed in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we see a truly global company in the making. Our partnership with Swoop enables drone production at scale, allowing market expansion in Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and beyond.

Swoop Aero is reshaping the bounds of health care, pathology, and critical pharmaceutical delivery. We’re proud to back Swoop as they unlock a better standard for Australians and millions of people around the world.

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