Dubai: Virgin Hyperloop One announced on Tuesday that it had raised an additional $50 million (Dh184 million) ahead of its latest round of funding with investment from Dubai-based port operator DP World.
Hyperloop is a futuristic, subsonic train that shoots through long tubes at 1,200 kilometres per hour.
DP World previously invested $50 million in Virgin Hyperloop One in October 2016, with the most recent investment bringing the total finances raised by the company to $295 million. The company was founded in 2014.
Virgin Hyperloop One, which was rebranded after an investment by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in October 2017, said it had also completed its third phase of testing, achieving trial speeds of 387 kilometres per hour.
Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is set to become the chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One.
“I am excited by the latest developments at Virgin Hyperloop One and delighted to be its new chairman,” Branson said in a statement.
“The recent investment by our partners Caspian Venture Capital and DP World sets up the company to pursue opportunities in key markets in the Middle East, Europe, and Russia as it develops game-changing and innovative passenger and cargo ground transport systems,” he added.
Russia’s Caspian Venture Capital also contributed towards the $50 million funding.
According to a Bloomberg report on Monday citing an anonymous source, Ziyavudin Magomedov, a Russian billionaire who controls Caspian Venture Capital and is the former co-executive chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, made an offer to buy the company in recent weeks. The transportation company’s board decided against the sale. The company didn’t immediately provide a comment on the proposal.
DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, announced in August 2016 that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with US-based Hyperloop One to explore the role of innovation in the future of world trade.
The collaboration is for feasibility studies that analyse the value of using Hyperloop systems in the UAE. The initial focus in Phase 1 will be on moving containers from ships docked at DP World’s flagship Jebel Ali Port via the Hyperloop tube to a new inland container depot in Dubai.
Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, told Gulf News in March this year that the company will hire “dozens and dozens of staff” locally, adding that they were “in the process of finalising an entity here in the UAE.”
The UAE has become a major proponent of Hyperloop technology, aiming to become the first country to properly implement it.
By 2020, Virgin Hyperloop One says it will have a 20km-long working prototype of the Elon Musk-inspired Hyperloop transportation system, renderings of which were unveiled at September’s London Design Festival. Construction of the multibillion dollar, high-tech transport system will reduce the 150km trip between Dubai and Abu Dhabi to a mere 12 minutes.