Startups

Jet propulsion-focused Wave Engine lands $3.5M round alongside new Baltimore facility

The University of Maryland spinout, which develops next-generation jet propulsion engines and aerial vehicles, deepened its presence in Charm City after years of growth and contracts with defense agencies.

A Wave Engine aircraft in flight.

(Courtesy image)

After nearly a half-decade building its reputation for aerospace innovation and landing a coveted defense contract, jet engine propulsion tech company North American Wave Engine Corp. recently announced both a $3.5 million raise and a planned 7,500-square-foot research facility in Baltimore.

The company’s statement described the raise as a “second seed” round, following up on a 2018 seed round worth $1.45 million. The latest raise was led by Tenable cofounders Ron and Cyndi Gula’s Gula Tech Adventures, whose eponymous Gula Tech Foundation had participated in Wave Engines’ first raise. Kevin Mahaffey, Asymmetry Ventures, the University System of Maryland’s Maryland Momentum Fund and the Abell Foundation — the latter two of which led the initial seed — also participated in this round.

CEO Daanish Maqbool told Technical.ly via email that this latest raise is focused on the commercialization and deployment of the company’s tech, which largely revolves around jet engine propulsion and other airborne vehicles. According to a statement, Wave Engines and the “pulsejet” engines it produces incorporate innovations in acoustics, combustion control, propulsion and other processes to create fixed-wing aircraft and related vehicles. Waves Engines’ devices reportedly differ from other jet propulsion-based aircraft by relying on pressure waves instead of rotating propellers or other moving parts, which the company has said makes its solutions more affordable and environmentally friendly.

This focus has helped the company land several noteworthy federal investments and contracts. The announcement noted that Wave Engines previously earned a $2.85 million investment from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2019, as well as a $1 million contract with the US Air Force’s Armaments Directorate.

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White and black aircraft in front of blue sky

A Wave Engine aircraft. (Courtesy image)

To support this work, Wave Engine is officially settling into the aforementioned research facility, which is located by the Baltimore Heliport in the city’s Canton neighborhood. Maqbool, who founded the company after earning a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, said that the facility offers industrial qualities and options that it needs for clients based throughout the defense and aerospace ecosystem.

“With building and testing aircraft engines, we have location needs that are different from most startups,” he said via email. “We need an industrial location, and in Baltimore, we’ve been able to find a good industrial location that is well-connected, close to city life and in close proximity to DC — can easily drive there for meetings, etc.”

To that end, the space includes a high-bay facility (which refers to warehouse space that can extend upwards of 20 feet high) for manufacturing and product testing, as well as office space.

Maqbool, who declined to specify Wave Engine’s current staff headcount, said that the company is working toward a Series A “in the near future” to scale the business operations and enter into new markets.

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