In a further boost to Abu Dhabi’s Smart and Autonomous Vehicles Industry (SAVI) cluster, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) today signed strategic agreements with France’s Ascendence and Italy’s Manta Aircraft on setting up operations in the UAE capital. Signed during the Dubai Airshow, the agreements mark the latest milestone in Abu Dhabi’s emergence as a global capital for advanced urban mobility.
Centred in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s fully integrated SAVI cluster provides state-of-the-art facilities, services, and regulatory framework to enable the design, testing, and manufacturing of applications for transportation and mobility on air, land and sea, as well as to service other sectors such as logistics.
Ascendance, a pure player in Sustainable Aviation, is assessing the potential of its hybrid-electric, long-range eVTOL – ATEA – to create new aerial routes in the UAE at a regional scale by partnering with local operators. This strategic partnership between ADIO and Ascendance will also explore how to leverage Abu Dhabi’s existing industrial ecosystem as part of the upcoming industrial set-up and in-service partners of ATEA.
Manta Aircraft intends to relocate its operations to the SAVI cluster and establish a facility to manufacture three aircraft models derived from a common platform on eV/STOL technology offering long-range capabilities at high speeds and independence from ground infrastructure. The company is also in discussion with Abu Dhabi’s Technology Innovation Institute (TII) to co-develop a hybrid propulsion system for integration into its products and for sale to other businesses.
Badr Al-Olama, Director General of ADIO, said: "Attracting innovators from across the world, Abu Dhabi’s SAVI cluster is ready to expand the frontiers of air mobility. ADIO looks forward to welcoming Ascendence and Manta Aircraft to Abu Dhabi, further strengthening the Emirate’s position as a global centre for urban mobility innovation.”
Jean-Christophe Lambert, Ascendance’ CEO, said “This strategic partnership shows Ascendance’s ambition at an international scale. We were very impressed by the strong willingness of the UAE and the SAVI cluster to be at the forefront of new, and more sustainable aerial mobility. We are thrilled to be part of this initiative. ADIO and Ascendance share a common vision about making efficient, quiet and more sustainable regional connections thanks to ATEA performance.”
Abu Dhabi’s SAVI cluster builds on the strength of Abu Dhabi’s industrial base and leverages its unparalleled access to established air corridors, road infrastructure and maritime ports. It houses academia, test zones, R&D labs, testing and certification facilities, large scale workshops, hangars, manufacturing facilities, connected through Abu Dhabi’s global logistics network. Tawazun Industrial Park (TIP), with its Nibras Aerospace Park in the city of Al Ain, offers runway facilities, and an aerospace park to host testing and manufacturing facilities for air mobility companies.
Founded in 2018 in Toulouse, France, Ascendance is a startup whose goal is to decarbonise aviation thanks to two products: STERNA, an innovative hybrid-electric propulsion to equip future generations of aircraft and ATEA, an eVTOL aircraft – powered by STERNA - with a range of 400km and a cruising speed of over 200km/h.
Manta Aircraft was established in Italy in 2020. The company is developing the innovative hybrid-electric eV/STOL air vehicle platform in different models for multipurpose use, from a versatile 2-seater for utility missions and private mobility to a stylish 6-seater for commercial use and autonomous high-performance drone for defence or civil missions.
In October, ADIO entered into an agreement with Archer Aviation to work together to make Abu Dhabi its first international launch partner, with plans to commence air taxi operations in Abu Dhabi in 2026. As part of the agreement, Archer Aviation will establish its first international headquarters and manufacturing facilities in the SAVI cluster.