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Zipline Raises $25 Million to Expand Drone Delivery of Medical Supplies into Rwanda

BY Alan Perlman
25 November 2016

San Francisco-based company Zipline International has raised $25 million in Series B funding to expand its work delivering medical supplies via drones into Africa. We wrote earlier this year about Zipline testing their services in Africa and it looks like those tests have proved successful, if this new round of funding is any indicator.

The company is partnering with the government of Rwanda to deliver much needed medical supplies to remote clinics in the East African nation.

What Is Zipline?

Zipline is a robotics company that builds autonomous drones designed to deliver vaccines, medicine, or blood on request from health workers operating in hard-to-reach areas.

Regarding their mission and the problem they propose to solve, Zipline founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo says, “The inability to deliver life-saving medicines to the people who need them the most causes millions of preventable deaths each year. Zipline will help solve that problem once and for all.”

Zipline Drone

Image source

Zipline’s core personnel are made up of engineers who formerly worked at Space X, Google, Lockheed Martin, and other tech companies.

Here’s a little more about Zipline’s mission from their website:

More than two billion people lack adequate access to essential medical products, often due to challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure. Because of this, over 2.9 million children under age five die every year. And up to 150,000 pregnancy-related deaths could be avoided each year if mothers had reliable access to safe blood.

The Rwanda Partnership

Zipline began dropping blood in Rwanda last month. Their ultimate plan is to ramp up to between 50 and 150 on-demand deliveries a day to 21 local transfusion clinics in the country.

Last month Rwanda launched what is considered the world’s first commercial national drone service, with deliveries now available quickly and efficiently through the use of drones air-dropping items with parachutes attached.

In total, Zipline has raised $43 million to deliver medical supplies to remote locations.

Curious to see how other companies are considering similar approaches to delivery? Check out this post we wrote back in August about Domino’s partnering with Flirtey to deliver pizzas via UAVs.


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