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Powering the future: Proxima Fusion raises €7M to propel fusion power plants

Proxima Fusion team
Photo credits: Proxima Fusion

Fusion is the process, which gives energy to stars. Scientists want to recreate this process on Earth and do it by trapping high-energy ionised matter called ‘plasma’ using magnetic fields. There are two methods called tokamaks and stellarators that create a magnetic cage in doughnut-shaped devices. The opportunity to leverage fusion as a safe, clean, and abundant energy source has motivated academic research in this domain for decades.

Proxima Fusion, a Munich-based fusion startup, which is designing fusion power plants based on the stellarator concept, has raised €7 million in a pre-seed funding round. This round was co-led by Plural Platform, the VC firm that was co-founded by Wise’s Taavet Hinrikus, which invested in and Robin AI, and UVC Partners, and joined by High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and the Wilbe Group.

Proxima will develop fusion power plants based on stellarator technology, putting more momentum behind this particular approach. Its ambition is to launch a fusion plant as early as 2030, almost a decade earlier than previously expected.

Jorrit Lion, a co-founder and expert in the modeling of stellarator power plants, stated: “We are building on decades of visionary investment by the German government in stellarator technology. It is this investment that created the opportunity for Proxima to be a European champion for fusion. Now, it is up to us to bring fusion energy to the grid”.

Martin Kubie, joining his co-founders after a decade of work in the McLaren Formula-1 team, Google-X and its spin-off Wing, acknowledged the hard work ahead: “Fusion is the challenge of our time. Our task will be to make it a commercial reality. Over the next 12 months, in collaboration with its academic and industry partners, Proxima will focus on completing its initial fusion power plant design.”

Ian Hogarth of Plural Platform added: “Stellarators offer the most robust and clearest path to fusion energy. The Proxima team has the energy and the speed that we need. They are ecosystem players, with a thrilling sense of ambition building on top of the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator – a masterpiece of German leadership. Europe needs the audacity of this team and their willpower to take on the fusion challenge.”

Benjamin Erhart, General Partner at UVC Partners, said: “In the coming years, the energy issue will be one of our most existential ones. We already know today that we need a clever mix of different energy sources. Proxima’s efforts for fusion leverage the massive investment made on stellarators in Germany. We are convinced that the team is ready to change the picture – for the world, and particularly for Germany and Europe, which are in urgent need of reliable sources beyond wind and solar.”

“Experimental progress from W7-X and recent advances in stellarator modeling have radically changed the picture”, explained Francesco Sciortino, co-founder and CEO of Proxima Fusion. “Stellarators can now remedy the key problems of tokamaks and truly scale up, radically improving the stability of the plasma and reaching high performance in steady state.”

Uses the world’s most advanced stellarator

Founded by the former scientists and engineers from the Max Planck IPP, MIT, and Google-X – Francesco Sciortino, Lucio Milanese, Jorrit Lion, Martin Kubie, and Jonathan Schilling. Proxima Fusion is the first spin-out from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP).

Its project uses IPP’s Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), whicis the most advanced stellarator in the world. Since the start of its operations in 2015, W7-X has been rapidly catching up over the most advanced tokamaks, which have collectively received vastly more funding so far. With W7-X reaching high performance in continuous operation, uniquely among fusion concepts, Proxima Fusion is catalysing the creation of a new fusion ecosystem in Europe. Connecting partners from industry and academia, Proxima Fusion is now entering the race for fusion energy to turn stellarators into economically viable fusion power plants.

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