Hyperloop One Aims To Speed Commercialization With Investment From Virgin Group
In a significant move impacting advancement of the hyperloop concept, US-based startup Hyperloop One has announced raising investment (the amount hasn’t been revealed) from entrepreneur Richard Branson and his Virgin Group. The Virgin Group and Hyperloop One are entering into a strategic partnership as a part of the deal, and the startup will also be rebranding to be known as Virgin Hyperloop One over the coming months. Branson is also joining Hyperloop One’s Board, bringing with him his wealth of experiences and connections in the transport sector, which can help make hyperloop a reality sooner.
“Virgin and Hyperloop One working together presents a differentiated brand that’s instantly recognizable around the world and lends tremendous credibility as we scale. Our global strategic partnership will focus on passenger and mixed-use cargo service, in addition to the creation of a new passenger division. Virgin will not be the only operator. We will work with a variety of operators globally, as selected by customers,” Shervin Pishevar and Josh Giegel, co-founders, and Rob Lloyd, CEO, Hyperloop One note in a statement announcing the partnership. “Virgin’s purpose-driven mission to deliver more sustainable modes of transportation aligns well with Hyperloop One’s radically efficient and clean technology,” they said.
Hyperloop, in essence, is a futuristic high-speed mode of transportation that proposes building a network of tubes that carry people or objects in pressurized capsules or pods. Entrepreneur Elon Musk is credited with having first come up with the idea of the hyperloop in an open-source design he released. Musk’s The Boring Company has also recently set out to build hyperloop tunnels. It’s interesting to note that peers Branson and Musk are both actively involved in numerous speculative technologies- be it space travel or high-speed hyperloop travel. Branson's Virgin Galactic wants to democratize the access to space, while Musk's SpaceX is already designing and launching rockets and spacecraft for NASA.
With regards to the partnership, Hyperloop One notes that their team will remain in control of “all engineering and development, product and system design, business development, and strategy,” and expect to gain from tapping into Virgin Group’s “53 million customers, excellent management, and a track record for delighting customers in a multitude of industries, especially transportation.” Hyperloop One says they are seeing growing demand from governments and the private sector globally, and currently have projects underway in the UAE, US, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, and India.
In a blog post announcing the partnership, among other things, Branson notes that, “As ever, the team behind the business is just as important as the product. I love to invest in people, not just technology. We’re pleased to be working with the co-founders, Executive Chairman Shervin Pishevar and President of Engineering Josh Giegel, who previously worked at Virgin Galactic, and their experienced executive team.”