$230M Venture Capital Fund Targets Electric Air Mobility

From left, Adam Grosser, Cyrus Sigari and Ben Marcus, managing directors of UP.Partners. UP.Partners

Transportation industry leaders have launched a $230 million venture capital fund aimed at investing in cleaner, faster, safer, and lower-cost alternative air transportation solutions to move people as well as goods.

The group, UP.Partners, announced the move Monday, saying it has gathered funds from investors including Cathie Wood, Woven Capital, and Alaska Air Group, which is the parent company of Alaska Air.

Alaska Air also announced Monday the creation of a new company to focus on emerging technology, Alaska Star Ventures, which dovetails with the carrier’s goal of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2040.

“Our investment in UP.Partners demonstrates Alaska Air Group’s continued commitment to supporting a cleaner and more accessible world of transport,” said Alaska Air Group CEO Ben Minicuccui. “The UP.Partners team, portfolio and ecosystem of corporate partners and investors is truly world class, and we are proud to partner with UP.Partners on this journey of supporting early-stage technology companies that are transforming the moving world.”

Other investors include Cathie Wood, founder and CEO of ARK Invest, and Toyota’s Woven Capital.

”Transforming mobility through technology is central to the mission of Woven Planet, and UP.Partners’ investment strategy is in complete lockstep,” said Betty Bryant, principal at Woven Capital.

“Woven Capital is excited to team up with UP.Partners as they encourage entrepreneurs who are focused on wide-ranging solutions that allow people, goods, and information to move more seamlessly, cost-effectively, and sustainably than ever before, benefiting humanity and the health of the planet for all.

”The partnership represents dynamic changes that are transforming transportation across logistics and supply chain management. New technologies in the electric aircraft space as well as artificial intelligence are opening new ways to move people, goods, and supplies.

In fact, 10 percent of the global GDP is made up of revenue from the transportation and logistics sectors, totaling about $10 trillion per year, according to UP.Partners. At the same time, transportation is blamed for 29 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

UP.Partners has made 10 initial tech sector investments, including flight autonomy innovator Skydio, UnitX—a manufacturing quality assurance leader—and Beta Technologies, an electric vertical aircraft developer. Beta’s Alia electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has received airworthiness approval from the U.S. Air Force and is currently involved in an USAF testing program. The Alia platform accommodates both passenger and cargo payloads.

UP.Partners was co-founded by serial aviation and technology entrepreneurs Ben Marcus and Cyrus Sigari, co-founders of business aircraft seller jetAVIVA and AirMap, a top digital, automated air traffic management platform for drones and flying cars.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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