WHILL has announced that it has completed procurement of £34 million in funding led by a range of investors, bringing WHILL’s total funding to around £61 million.

Investors include SBI Investment, Daiwa PI Partners and Daiwa Corporate Investment (affiliates of Daiwa Securities Group.), WHIZ Partners, Endeavor Catalyst and others.

According to the company, the latest funding round will give it the ability to broaden its geographic footprint across other European countries through new partnerships, branches and hiring employees to support its global growth.

Satoshi Sugie, Co-Founder and CEO of WHILL, said: “WHILL began in 2010 with the voice of one wheelchair user saying, ‘I’ve even given up going to a convenience store just two blocks away,’ and today we have grown into a brand used by people all over the world.

“Through innovative technology and design, we’re giving people greater independence and opportunities to fully participate in society and the activities they love, and this pushes us to do even more and better.”

He added that the world’s ageing population is forecast to dramatically increase over the next few decades to 2.1 billion people over the age of 60 by 2050 and that with this, mobility and infrastructure needs to respond to this change.

“Therefore, as we continue to build personal mobility devices they require, we will further accelerate the expansion of our business while strengthening our MaaS business in order to achieve our mission to ‘Deliver Fun and Innovation to Pedestrian Travel,’” he continued.

“Our goal is to build a service that can be utilized normally like public transportation.”

Previous investors for WHILL include INCJ (Innovation Network Corporation of Japan), Eight Road Ventures, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, Nippon Venture Capital, DG Incubation, and Mizuho Capital.

Beyond WHILL’s global expansion goals, the new funding will also allow the company to expand its product offerings and develop its MaaS (Mobility as a Service) side of the business. This will support the ageing population by building the necessary technology and infrastructure to move people through large and busy venues such as airports, sports venues and shopping centres.

Following this, WHILL is also looking to address a major issue in the current PRM (Passengers with Reduced Mobility) service within airports.

At the moment, airline passenger assistants are required to manually push PRMs in a wheelchair through different parts of the airport, meaning passengers are fully dependent on the assistant to take them where they want to go.

To tackle this problem, WHILL, in collaboration with strategic partners, is developing self-driving and self-stopping technologies to help give passengers more independence and reduce assistants’ workloads.

Since its founding in 2012, WHILL’s mission is to transform current wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new, intelligent personal electric vehicle which focuses on an attractive design and boosts users’ confidence.

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