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Magway raises £1m to pilot underground online deliveries

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A UK start-up that plans to deliver online customer orders through a network of underground pipes has raised more than £1m to take its plans to the pilot stage.

Magway says that more than 1,700 investors – almost half (45%) aged between 18 and 30 – have put in the cash to beat its initial crowdfunding target of £750,000, first set in November. At the time of writing, the crowdfunder total raised stood at £1.2m. The cash is earmarked for a commercial pilot, IP registration and for expanding its core team.

Magway envisages using magnetic and electrical forces generated by linear motors to drive totes through networks of pipes and says this has potential to provide a sustainable alternative to growing road traffic as online deliveries expand. 

Magway managing director Anna Daroy said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to our crowdfunding campaign. It shows that people, particularly younger generations, are prepared to back innovative businesses, such as Magway, in their drive to change existing, out-dated modes of transportation, and in doing so, help improve air quality and the wider environment.”

The update comes a day after the Centre for Cities Cities Outlook 2020 report said that more than one in 19 deaths in UK cities and large towns were related to long-term exposure to air pollution. 

Daroy said: “Without a significant step change in managing how billions of parcels and goods reach our doors, delivery traffic will continue to increase along with the levels of toxic air we breathe.

“As the first major economy in the world to legally commit to zero emissions by 2050, the UK government has taken positive steps towards reducing global warming, but more can be done and ‘business as usual’ won’t cut it. Therefore, we need big ideas, such as Magway, which represents a step-change in the way we currently deliver goods. We believe that built at scale, Magway could help reduce the UK’s C02 emissions by six million tonnes per annum. That’s the equivalent to a third of the delivery vehicle emissions in the UK.”

Magway will initially provide short delivery routes for airports such as Heathrow and Stansted, helping to alleviate freight traffic. Construction of a wider UK network of pipes, spanning hundreds of kilometres is expected to start in 2023.

Magway is looking to “forward-looking online retailers and logistics firms that are planning for a more sustainable, reliable and ultimately affordable means of distribution” to use the network once it is rolled out.

Magway was founded in 2017 and has previously received seed funding and grants of almost £1.5m, including £650,000 from UK technology innovation agency Innovate UK. It has also been recognised through the New Civil Engineer TechFest Awards, and reached the later stages of Heathrow’s Centre of Excellence Innovation Prize and the Singapore-based SlingShot 2019 Top100 Global Startups in Asia awards.

Image courtesy of Magway

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