Building on plans to use the futuristic Hyperloop tube-transport system at its operations in Dubai, ports giant DP World has invested millions in the start-up company Hyperloop One, and its chief executive has joined the Hyperloop One board.
DP World’s cash injection – the exact amount was not disclosed – is part of $50m Hyperloop One raised last week in preparation for a full-scale test of the system in the first quarter of next year.
The world is changing quickly and we want to be involved in the potential this kind of innovation presents– Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman
Also joining the Hyperloop One board is the Russian billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov, whose investment company Summa Group has also put money into the start-up.
In August DP World launched a feasibility study into using a Hyperloop to move containers from ships docked at its flagship Jebel Ali Port to a new inland depot in Dubai.
The Hyperloop concept, proposed by Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk in 2013, sees capsules, carrying people or freight, hurtling through tubes kept in a partial vacuum at speeds approaching 700mph.
Hyperloop One is one of two companies formed in the US to try and commercialise the concept. The $50m raised last week brings the total it has attracted so far from investors to a reported $160m.
Announcing his company’s "multi-million dollar" investment last week, DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said: "DP World and Dubai are at the forefront of technological innovation in the transport and logistics industry and we continue to seek opportunities to invest in and utilise our expertise to develop disruptive technology."
"The world is changing quickly," added Sulayem, who has joined the Hyperloop One board of directors, "and we want to be involved in the potential this kind of innovation presents, connecting markets and economies around the world and realising our vision to lead the future of world trade."
While the Hyperloop concept has been promoted as a clean alternative to passenger air travel, Hyperloop One’s co-founder and executive chair Shervin Pishevar said that the company’s focus would be on freight.
"Cargo has been the vision from the first days that I founded it," Pishevar told CNBC. "To be able to move cargo, the atoms, as fast possible, as the bits – that’s really the vision here, and DP World is an incredible partner and now investor and board member."
Rob Lloyd, CEO, Hyperloop One, said: "We are excited to continue our strong partnership with DP World as well as welcome Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem to our Board of Directors. These latest moves strengthen our company from a global perspective as we move towards showcasing the world’s first Hyperloop early next year."
Image: Artist’s impression of a Hyperloop transport capsule (Hyperloop One)