February 1, 2024

Bill Gates-backed electric plane startup Heart Aerospace flies high with $107m raise

Backed by VCs and industry players, Heart aims to have its planes in the air in 2028

Mimi Billing

3 min read

Swedish hybrid-electric plane startup Heart Aerospace today announced a $107m Series B funding round, bringing the total raised by the company to $145m.

New investors include family office Sagitta Ventures, while the company is also backed by Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the European Innovation Council Fund, and airlines United Airlines and Air Canada.

It plans to use the fresh capital to continue building its business and make progress toward certification of its first hybrid-electric plane, which it hopes to get in the air in 2028. 


From 19-seater to 30-seater

Heart began as a government-sponsored project in 2018 by CEO and cofounder Anders Forslund. In 2019, it got into Y Combinator and focused on the Nordics and building a smaller 19-seater electric plane.

It caught the attention of big name backers, raising a seed round in 2019 from  Sweden-based EQT Ventures and Norrsken VC, as well as Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital. 

In 2022, the plan for the 19-seater was scrapped to focus on a 30-seater plane, the ES-30, which will be able to take passengers 200km (from Brussels to Amsterdam, for example) on electric power, and double that distance — Paris to Munich — with hybrid-electric. 

“The industry has committed to net zero emissions by 2050. The only way forward is to decouple the tremendous growth in aviation from its emissions, and we believe ES-30 is the first stepping stone,” Forslund says.  

"This upcoming year is an exciting one for Heart Aerospace as we prepare to unveil our full-scale aircraft demonstrator.”

So far, Heart is the only hybrid-electric aeroplane of its size that has handed in a certification application with European Union Aviation Safety Agency, EASA. The aim is to achieve the certification for its 30-seater in 2028, and to have its plane in the air the same year. 

Heart Aerospace is tapping the Northvolt model

Similarly to Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt, Heart has brought in backers that not only provide capital but also expertise, and could serve as potential clients. 

In July 2021, American airlines Mesa and United Airlines invested in the startup and put in an order for 200 planes. A year later, Air Canada put in an order for 30 and became a shareholder alongside Saab, the Swedish aerospace and defence company; they both invested $5m. Air New Zealand is also working with Heart, and the company has 250 orders in total for its ES-30.

Roll out of tech like Heart’s can help Europe meet its net zero goals — but only if policy is aligned to what the company offers, according to Simon McNamara, director of government and industry affairs at Heart.

In September last year, the EU Parliament adopted the ‘ReFuel EU’ initiative, which aims to increase the proportion of fuel in planes that comes from biomaterials. But it has not yet focused on new technologies, such as electric or hydrogen, says McNamara.


“Within Europe there is a big political focus on SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) as the solution to meeting the sector target of net zero by 2050, but the reality is that SAF will only get us around 70% of the way there under any net zero roadmaps,” McNamara says. 

“New technology has a huge role to play in plugging the gap, and all of the industry roadmaps highlight new tech (electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen) as a really important enabler, with up to one third of the decarbonisation needed coming from this channel.”

In January, however, the European Parliament did adopt a report on electric aviation, with recommendations for how to support its introduction in the EU. Heart Aerospace hopes that this will guide the new EU Commission following elections in June this year. 

“For lots of reasons there is limited momentum politically behind governments supporting new technology and that, we think, needs to change as we approach a new cycle of European policymaking in 2024,” McNamara says.

Mimi Billing

Mimi Billing is Sifted's Europe editor. She covers the Nordics and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn