Coca-Cola-Backed Irish Drone Delivery Startup Partners with Hillwood to Test ‘Lightning-Fast’ Deliveries in North Texas

The trial will initially offer drone delivery to a select number of Hillwood’s residential developments. The news comes in tandem with a strategic investment in Manna Drone Delivery from Coca-Cola HBC, the strategic bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Co.

Dublin, Ireland-based Manna, the world’s first aviation-grade B2B “drone delivery as-a-service” startup, has begun a trial in partnership with Dallas-based real estate development company Hillwood at its AllianceTexas development in Fort Worth.

The trial initially will offer drone delivery to a select number of Hillwood’s residential developments.

“As the division of Hillwood that creates a community for generations of Texas families, innovation is one of our guiding principles when we envision and develop Lifestyle by HillwoodSM communities,” Fred Balda, president of Hillwood Communities, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Hillwood’s Mobility Innovation Zone team and Manna to use new technologies and bring innovation direct to our families’ doorstep.”

Manna received a strategic investment from Coca Cola HBC

Manna’s delivery drone [Photo: Manna]

The trial comes in tandem with a strategic investment in Manna Drone Delivery from Coca-Cola HBC, the strategic bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Co.

Coca-Cola HBC collaborates via its ventures arm with disruptive startups that have synergies with its business ambitions in the areas of last mile, vending, coffee technology, and sustainability.

Another tech advancement at The MIZ

Hillwood is the developer of AllianceTexas, a 27,000-acre mixed-use, master-planned community that’s home to the Mobility Innovation Zone. Manna said it has created a plan to make fast drone delivery service available to over 10,000 local residents, pending suitable approvals from the FAA.

“We’re excited to work with Manna as a key operator at the AllianceTexas Mobility Innovation Zone, where they can scale and commercialize drone delivery in one of the world’s most unique environments,” Christopher Ash, senior vice president of aviation business development for Hillwood, said in a statement. “At Hillwood, we’re a team collaborating to bring innovative supply chain technologies to North Texas and provide next-level amenities to the communities we reach.”

Last-mile delivery ‘in a more efficient, safer, and greener way’

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar accompanied the Manna team to the U.S. for the announcement alongside Enterprise Ireland and Hillwood’s Christopher Ash. (Photo: Terence O’Rourke, Ambassador to the U.S. Geraldine Byrne Nason, Leo Clancy, Christopher Ash, Bobby Healy, Philippa Keogh, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar)

Manna said it’s on a mission to improve the world by making “lightning-fast suburban deliveries” affordable, green, and safe. Its drone fleet is operated directly from the restaurant or dark kitchen premises and is accessible via API to food tech providers and online food platforms alike in a channel-agnostic manner.

Manna designs, builds and operates unmanned aerial vehicles that perform “lightning fast” deliveries of up to 7 pounds in high-density suburban last-mile settings.

The company’s technology includes a proprietary AI-driven routing system, which helps optimize delivery routes based on factors such as weather conditions, traffic patterns, and delivery demand. This technology allows Manna to deliver goods quickly and efficiently while minimizing the environmental impact of their operations.

Deliveries that emit less carbon in the atmosphere

A recent study Manna commissioned from the University of Maynooth compared carbon emissions generated by drone delivery to terrestrial forms of delivery, including cars, motorbikes, and electric bikes. The study found that Manna’s drone delivery service emits between 6 and 8 times less CO2 than a small petrol car (1.4L engine) and emits significantly less CO2 than other terrestrial delivery methods.

“We’re delighted to partner with two major brands, Coca-Cola HBC and Hillwood, on our journey to bring a new form of delivery to suburban homes and as we start to scale globally,” Manna CEO and founder Bobby Healy said in a statement. “Working with Hillwood who develop technology-forward, innovative lifestyle communities and with Coca-Cola HBC who are committed to more sustainable and advanced delivery solutions is testament to the realization that last mile delivery can be done in a more efficient, safer and greener way.”

Coca-Cola HBC said that with this partnership and investment, it’s at the forefront of revolutionizing the route to market. The company said it also supports Coca-Cola HBC’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions across its value chain by 2040, investing in this delivery method that has been proven to emit up to eight times less CO2 compared to car delivery.

Manna said the strategic partnership will provide insights and expertise from a market-leading beverage company, and over time, the two organizations will work to identify opportunities for Manna to scale across Coca-Cola HBC’s territories.

“Our investment in Manna Drone Delivery, one of the most innovative drone delivery start-up companies in the world, encapsulates our ambition to deliver our products in new and more sustainable ways,” Zoran Bogdanovic, CEO, Coca-Cola HBC, said in a statement. “We are excited about this partnership which allows us to be at the forefront of disruptive technologies across the worldwide consumer packaged goods (CPG) market. Furthermore, with up to eight times less CO2 compared to car delivery, this partnership with Manna Drones is another step in our journey to achieve net zero emissions across our value chain by 2040.”

Aiming for the largest drone delivery operation in Europe

Currently, Manna is serving a suburb in Dublin, Ireland, where the population of 35,000 can be supported with up to 280 deliveries a day. It recently confirmed that it will expand soon to another Dublin suburb with a population of over 100,000.

That would be the largest drone delivery operation in Europe, the company said.

Manna said it’s working with the Federal Aviation Administration to earn approvals that leverage its progress and demonstrated regulatory success with EASA, Europe’s aviation regulator.

Manna has raised more than $40M to date

The announcement of the U.S. operation made news in Ireland as well.

“Congratulations to Manna, an Enterprise Ireland client company, on entering the U.S. market, marking the beginning of their global expansion. Manna is a great example of Irish innovation, transforming industries and partnering with global brands. I wish them every success for this new venture,” Leo Varadkar, An Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said in a statement. “I really love to see Irish companies like Manna growing at home and then going global. The fact that Manna is now a foreign direct investor in the US is further evidence that our economic relationship with America is a two-way street.”

Manna said it has raised more than $40 million to date from investors such as Enterprise Ireland, Molten Ventures, Partners of DST Global ffVC, Dynamo Ventures, and Tapestry VC, CCHBC Ventures, Radius Capital.

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