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London Tech Week

Hylight soars with €3.7M investment to fuel hydrogen-powered airship drones

HyLight team
HyLight team. Image credits; HyLight

Consensus among political and scientific circles is that global climate change stands as one of the most pressing threats to the international community. To safeguard the well-being of future generations, a decisive shift towards renewable resources and clean energy is imperative. However, this transition will require time and significant technological advancements.

Our ultimate goal should be to eliminate reliance on resources that accelerate climate change. Yet, economic pressures, including inflation, often divert attention from environmental concerns. To address both challenges, we must optimise existing resources and minimise waste resulting from aging infrastructure.

Notably, oil and gas leaks contribute approximately 4% of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite widespread legislation aimed at enhancing infrastructure inspections and expediting repairs, the execution of these inspections can inadvertently exacerbate pollution or lack precision.

Traditional methods, such as using helicopters and fossil fuel-powered vehicles for inspections, are environmentally unfriendly. Meanwhile, drones and satellites, while promising, suffer from accuracy limitations and susceptibility to weather conditions.

What we truly need is a stable platform capable of swiftly and accurately inspecting infrastructure. This platform should have an extended operational range and, crucially, produce zero greenhouse gas emissions. Such innovation would significantly contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change.

HyLight, an innovative leader in aerial inspection utilising hydrogen airship drones, has achieved a significant milestone with the completion of a fundraising round, securing €3.7 million ($4 million). The investment, led by prominent venture capital firms and notable business angels, including Y Combinator, Ring Capital, Kima Ventures, Collaborative Fund, and Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla, marks a pivotal moment in HyLight’s journey towards decarbonising aerial inspection.

Founded in 2022 and located in Brétigny-sur-Orge, France, HyLight’s mission is to enhance society’s resilience against the effects of climate change. Their flagship creation, the HyLighter, is a hydrogen-powered airship drone capable of collecting vital data over extensive distances without emitting greenhouse gases. In under two years, HyLight has developed seven iterations of its airship drone, logged over 150 hours of flight time, and secured inspection contracts with major European energy infrastructure operators. Notably, HyLight is one of the select hardware startups to join Y Combinator, positioning itself at the forefront of sustainable aerospace innovation.

Having completed his education at Neoma Business School, the University of Shanghai, and the University of Technology of Troyes (UTT), Martin Bocken, CEO of HyLight co-founded HyLight in 2022. Driven by his passion for combining decarbonised technologies with aerospace, he shapes the company’s strategic vision, providing both operational and financial leadership. Martin’s innovative mindset is instrumental in steering HyLight towards offering environmentally friendly solutions that redefine the future of aerospace.

With a background in mechanical engineering from INSA Lyon and expertise in renewable energies from UQAR in Canada, Josef Rokusek, HyLight’s CTO co-founded HyLight to spearhead the development of their groundbreaking airship drone. Responsible for both software and hardware aspects, Josef’s innovative approach enables data collection over vast distances while minimising greenhouse gas emissions, challenging traditional methods.

Thomas Laporte, HyLight’s CBO has a background in business law from Panthéon-Assas University and management from emlyon and UC Berkeley. His multifaceted role at HyLight involves identifying market opportunities, fostering client relationships, and forming strategic partnerships to drive the company’s growth and impact.

Advanced technology for precise data collection

Leveraging cutting-edge hydrogen airship drone technology, HyLight aims to revolutionise the way aerial inspections are conducted, offering a sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional methods.

At the heart of HyLight’s technology is a sophisticated blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision capabilities. Equipped with high-definition cameras and advanced sensors, HyLight’s airship drones can capture ultra-precise data over large areas, facilitating the early detection of faults and anomalies. With a flight autonomy of up to 10 hours and a range of 350 km, HyLight’s drones offer unparalleled efficiency and reliability in aerial inspection.

Strategic partnerships and industry validation

HyLight has forged strategic partnerships with leading accelerators and industry players, including Y Combinator and the University of California, Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator. Additionally, the company has collaborated with Enedis, Europe’s largest power line operator, to pilot its innovative aerial inspection solutions. These partnerships underscore the industry’s recognition of HyLight’s technology and its potential to drive meaningful change in infrastructure monitoring.

“This round of financing is a decisive milestone for HyLight. It allows us to realise our vision of providing large-scale infrastructure inspection in a decarbonised and highly precise manner.” Said Martin Bocken. “With the support of our investors, we are ready to redefine the standards of industrial inspection and meet growing environmental and regulatory requirements”.

The €3.7 million investment will enable HyLight to achieve critical milestones in its growth trajectory. The funds will support the scaling up of operations, the recruitment of top-tier talent across various domains, and the development of advanced iterations of its airship drones.

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