Melbourne medical drone company wins innovation award

written by Adam Thorn | October 12, 2020

A Melbourne-based company that builds and operates drones to transport medical supplies has won a top innovation award.

Swoop Aero collected Product Innovation of Year at the Australian Business Awards, which recognised the research and development involved in its proprietary drone.

The news comes after Australian Aviation reported in June that the business secured an eight-figure sum from an investment round to establish a presence in New Zealand and certify its aviation systems for more operations.

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“Our logistics infrastructure has been trusted by some of the largest players in the global health sector, including UNICEF, the Gates Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, USAID and UKAID,” said chief executive Eric Peck. “Our company is rapidly scaling as we are on track of reaching 100 million people with sustainable drone logistics by 2025.”

The business has generated headlines since its foundation in 2017, including by being the first company in the world to remotely pilot commercially used drones from another country.

Swoop flew PPE in Malawi during the COVID-19 pandemic, while piloting the aircraft from Australia.

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“As COVID-19 has shown, problems with access to much-needed healthcare supplies are consistent across the globe, even in developed countries like Australia, where pathology tests take days to arrive, if they arrive at all,” said Peck earlier.

“We’re laser-focused on further developing our service offering in ANZ and expanding operations so that more people can access vital services.

“We can’t imagine a future where drone transport isn’t a universally critical component of the health supply chain.

“One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic is the need to remove the red tape which limited our capacity as a nation to respond as quickly as we could have, with a self-distancing solution to deliver life-saving medicines, and early testing kits.”

The company has been behind a series of pioneering projects, including transporting a vaccine to a baby on a small Pacific island in conjunction with UNICEF.

The aircraft flew 40 kilometres across rugged mountains in Vanuatu that otherwise take hours to cross by road. The company said around 20 per cent of children in the country don’t receive important vaccinations because the supply is too difficult.

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