A PIONEERING tech firm from Dorset which makes jet packs, flying cars and powered paragliders is getting a £25m boost from Chinese investors.
Gilo Industries, which was founded by inventor Gilo Cardozo, has grown a business building specialist engines for a new generation of flying vehicles.
It has allowed Cardozo to travel from London to Timbuktu in a flying car, and attempt to scale Everest in a powered paraglider, or paramotor, with adventurer Bear Grylls.
China’s Kuang-Chi Group has taken a 40pc stake in Gilo Industries for £25m in a deal seen as key to Britain’s domination of this new industry. It is hoped that it will lay the foundations for hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in British technology and engineering.
Bosses at Kuang-Chi are predicting the UK will become a global leader in flying vehicles, with huge businesses employing thousands of people springing up within the next five years.
On the same day, Airbus Group announced plans to test a prototype for a self-piloted flying car as a way of avoiding gridlock on city roads by the end of the year.
While the Chinese investment is a boost for Britain it is also a major show of support in Gilo Industries, which employs 60 people and reported revenues of £915,000 last year. But Kuang-Chi’s investment values the business at more than £66m – and, crucially, the deal keeps the ownership and manufacturing in the UK.
‘It is a really clear example of how international organisations look to all areas of Britain for innovation and entrepreneurship, and how they can boost regional, national and global industries,’ said Cardozo.
The company said it would continue to be based in the UK, with all manufacturing remaining in the country. The backing has come from Dr Ruopeng Liu, a man dubbed the ‘Chinese Elon Musk’ – a reference to his similarity to the billionaire inventor of electric car brand Tesla and aerospace manufacturer SpaceX.
Liu, who has been working with Gilo Industries for three years, already uses the British-made engines in his company’s jetpack vehicles which it sells for commercial use.
‘It was time to bring Gilo Industries to the next stage so it can expand its capacity for research and development,’ said Liu. ‘That’s why we are putting in more investment.’
Liu has committed a further £250m to invest in this industry – the majority going to UK businesses.
‘This is an area the UK can lead in,’ said Liu. ‘We think there will be some of the new global giants growing from the UK in this wave of new technology.’
Liu said that the fall in the pound since Britain’s Brexit vote had made investing in the UK more attractive. He added: ‘Despite some fears surrounding Brexit, innovation is booming in the UK and Kuang-Chi has confidence in the UK market. In my opinion, Brexit will definitely be a benefit for global investment.’-Daily Mail