First batch of start-ups complete Sustainable Aero Lab

Global mentoring phase ends with emphasis on sustainable aviation
28 October 2021

Six aviation start-ups have completed the  Sustainable Aero Lab, backed by the Ministry for Economics and Innovation and funded by the Innovation and Development Bank Hamburg (IFB Hamburg). Launched in January, the scheme boosts swift, sustainable development opportunities in the sector and reduces aviation's carbon footprint. 

Positive balance 

The participating start-ups were Airflow (U.S.), Mobius.Energy (U.S.), Fusion Engineering (Netherlands), Shift Aviation (Ireland), HeronFan (Germany) and Moonware (U.S.) and were mentored by the who's who of aviation and venture capitalists. Stephan Uhrenbacher, joint founder and Managing Director of Sustainable Aero Labs, commented: Aviation is the toughest of all industries to decarbonize. Our motivation is to build a network that helps find answers to this global challenge facing an entire generation." He added: "When we started the Sustainable Aero Lab, we were unsure how the rather conservative aviation industry would react to the speed and the agility of this scheme. We were overwhelmed by the feedback and interest shown in the first season, and are really looking forward to scaling the initiative with the next cohort." 

Start-ups in Sustainable Aero Lab


Airflow is building a hybrid-electric short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft for middle-mile logistics in response to the burgeoning e-commerce market. Airflow is not simply designing a vehicle, but an entire operating environment. The concept is scalable both in terms of aircraft size, propulsion technology e.g., hydrogen and variants for passenger operations. By taking part in the scheme, Airflow generated eleven potential customers with Letters of Intent for USD 600 million in turnover.

© Airflow


Mobius.Energy is building a revolutionary safe, light, and energy-efficient battery with discharge and recharge rates to tackle the huge challenges posed by aviation. Its battery is suitable for the entire electric and hybrid-electric aircraft market. The investment group, GEM recently committed USD 50 million in funding, the start-up announced.  


Fusion Engineering
© Fusion Engineering

Fusion Engineering

The market for commercial drones is growing rapidly. Yet drones still crash more frequently than other commercial aviation aircraft. Fusion Engineering is developing a flight control system for commercial drones. The company's software offers unprecedented safety and reliability for drone operations. 

Shift Aviation

Holding patterns are a source of hugely increased and unnecessary emissions. Shift Aviation has come up with an air traffic predictive management system that negotiates arrival slots between airports and airlines, thereby reducing delays, fuel waste and CO2 emissions. The system was developed by an active airline pilot.

Shift Aviation
© Shift Aviation


HeronFan is a fledgling, Hamburg-based start-up and has come up with an entirely new engine design which integrates the turbine into the fan. While retaining the efficiency of the turbofan, the new engine has fewer parts, weighs less and requires less maintenance. 


The San Francisco-based Moonware is automating ground operations for airports and vertiports. The start-up's fleet management software helps airports and airlines to optimize entire ground operations and improve the turnaround times for aircraft. It also allows for autonomous and electric pushback vehicles. The start-up is currently setting up a pilot case with a leading international airline.

No application deadline for Sustainable Aero Lab

Start-ups collaborate with some of the world’s leading experts in aviation, venture capital and sciences to turn their projects into commercially viable businesses during a stint in the Sustainable Aero Lab. Founders can apply online via with their pitch deck. The next cohort will meet on December 2, 2021. 


Sustainable Aero Lab

Founded by Stephan Uhrenbacher's Density Ventures, Hamburg Aviation, and ZAL Center of Applied Aero Research, the Sustainable Aero Lab is backed by Hamburg's Ministry of Economics and Innovation (BWI) and funded through the Hamburg Investment and Development Bank (IFB). The Sustainable Aero Lab also serves as a think tank to publicly discuss, share and navigate sustainability developments in commercial aviation.