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Exclusive: Ayro raises €19.2M to build huge ship sails

The Canopée began sea-trials this summer with four Oceanwings sails, each 120 feet tall. Photo: Courtesy of Ayro

French startup Ayro closed a €19.2 million (~$20.3 million) Series B to expand construction of its towering sails for oceangoing ships.

Why it matters: Incorporating advanced sails with cleaner-burning fuels may be the only way to fully decarbonize the maritime industry — and enable companies to meet tightening emissions regulations.

What's happening: Ayro is one of a handful of startups building multistory sails for large ships, cutting their fuel consumption by as much as 50%.

Driving the news: Swen Capital Partners led the company's all-equity round through its ocean-focused fund, Blue Ocean.

  • Existing investors Ocean Zero and Bpifrance joined, as well as new investors AmInvest, Colam Impact, Normandie Participations and another Swen-managed fund, FCPI Capital Innovant N°2.
  • Blue Ocean managing director Christian Lim is joining Ayro's board.

Of note: The Series B closed in mid-August, around the time the company began sea trials with four 120-foot sails it installed aboard the Canopée freighter ship.

  • The ship is transporting space-launch components from Europe to French Guiana for Arianespace, a French satellite-launch company.

State of play: The Canopée trials are one of several such efforts, spurred by public pressure, rising fuel costs and a new pair of regulations.

  • The UN's International Maritime Organization last year instituted a "Carbon Intensity Index," which rates and potentially penalizes high-polluting ships.
  • Meanwhile, the European Union's Emissions Trading System, which had excluded shipping, will begin requiring shippers to buy offsets for the pollution they produce starting next year.

What's next: Ayro plans to expand its existing manufacturing site in Normandy to make as many as 20 of its Oceanwings sails next year for shipbuilders.

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