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Skeleton Technologies: Fresh millions for battery start


Fintech icon Taavet Hinrikus' entry into the German-Estonian battery specialist Skeleton shows that Germany is gaining in importance as a location for the energy transition.

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Skeleton founder Madiberk, Ahlberg: »Insane ambition«

Photo: Arno Mikkor / Skeleton

The German-Estonian energy start-up Skeleton Technologies has received fresh money from a prominent investor.

Taavet Hinrikus, a former Skype executive and co-founder of payment processor Wise (formerly Transferwise), is leading a new €37.6 million funding round for Skeleton.

In total, around 200 million euros have flowed into the high-tech company since it was founded, and it is now playing in the league of European unicorns – tech start-ups valued at more than one billion dollars.

Skeleton develops and produces so-called ultracapacitors;

Storage that can absorb and release energy much faster than lithium-ion batteries, which are predominantly used in electric cars today.

In addition to being used in the passenger car sector, the capacitors are also used for trucks and buses, wind turbines and power grids as well as in industry.

"We see a market potential of 500 billion euros," said Skeleton co-founder Taavi Madiberk to SPIEGEL.

According to its English name, his company wants to become the »framework« of the energy transition.

The capacitors are suitable, for example, for compensating for fluctuations in the power grid that increase as a result of the increased use of solar and wind power.

Skeleton is already cooperating with German car manufacturers to benefit from the electric revolution.

In search of the super battery

The company is based in Tallinn, where the software is also developed, but has production and development sites in Großröhrsdorf near Dresden, Berlin and Bitterfeld-Wolfen and is funded by the federal government with 51 million euros.

"Skeleton is a perfect combination of Estonian software and German engineering expertise," says Madiberk.

Together with Oliver Ahlberg, he founded Skeleton in 2009 and focuses primarily on new materials when developing energy storage devices.

With the help of the electrically conductive carbon graphene, the Estonians want to develop a "super battery" that should only need 15 seconds to charge and, according to Madiberk, could give electromobility an enormous boost.

The capacitors can also absorb energy again during the braking process and thus increase energy efficiency.

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Wise founder Hinrikus

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images

In 2021, Skeleton collected orders worth 1.3 billion euros.

In order to further accelerate growth, the company now secured additional funds.

The entry of Wise founder Taavet Hinrikus is also a sign of the company's ambitions.

Hinrikus, also born in Estonia, founded the payment service provider in 2011, internationalized it and took it public.

After the IPO in July last year, Hinrikus largely left Wise and has since focused fully on his role as an investor.

»Impressed by his crazy ambition«

"There are still too few technology investors in Europe who were themselves founders and have made companies big," says Hinrikus.

Together with several other successful fintech entrepreneurs, the Estonian wants to change that.

At Skeleton, for example, co-founders of the payment processor Adyen joined him.

Hinrikus sees great potential in Europe and especially in Germany for so-called deep-tech startups that want to solve complex problems with the help of scientific progress and technological innovations.

Europe has “so many ingredients that it needs to keep up technologically with the USA and China, and now the necessary will is there too”.

Hinrikus says about skeleton founder Madiberk: »I am impressed by his almost crazy ambition.«

Source: spiegel

All business articles on 2022-01-27

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