Munich-based Proxima Fusion, dedicated to creating emission-free fusion power plants, has successfully raised a total of €7.5 million, following an extension to its initial pre-seed funding round.
Fusion energy, derived from the process of merging two lighter atomic nuclei to form a heavier nucleus, emits energy that can be harnessed to supply power for residential areas, industrial facilities, and entire countries.
Backers in the Recent Investment Round
Proxima Fusion garnered investments from founders of unicorn companies known for growing tech businesses beyond the $1B mark, alongside contributions from family offices and prominent industry figures in Europe.
This funding round was spearheaded by deep tech investment firms Plural Platform and UVC Partners. Additional participants included new investors like Visionaries Tomorrow, Hummingbird Collective, Achleitner Ventures, Bosch Holding, the FlixFounders fund, and a group of angel investors.
Creating Enhanced Stellarator Fusion Reactors
Launched in January 2023, Proxima Fusion is a new venture originating from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP). The company was established by specialists from Max Planck IPP, MIT, and Google-X with the goal of developing a high-performance stellarator, building upon the achievements of W7-X, the world’s most sophisticated stellarator to date.
Stellarators operate by utilizing external coils to generate a twisting magnetic field, which allows for plasma control without the need for inducing electric currents within the plasma, a technique commonly used in tokamaks.
Proxima Fusion’s primary focus is on the conceptual design of a stellarator-based power plant, tackling the essential components needed for a fusion device capable of energy production. The startup employs a simulation-first approach, using modeling to enhance cost efficiency and expedite the research and development process.
The company explains, “Our main effort at present is to integrate both physics and engineering design elements into our stellarator optimization framework, named ‘Starfinder’.”
Additionally, Proxima Fusion is working towards achieving net-energy production by 2031 and aims to construct a fusion power plant in the 2030s.
Since its inception, the startup has attracted top-tier talent, including scientists and engineers from prestigious institutions such as TUM, EPFL, Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. Industry veterans from Tesla and Google are also part of the team.
These experts are relocating to Munich to contribute to the creation of the world’s first commercial fusion power plant based on the QI stellarator model. Their objective is to pioneer a sustainable and emissions-free energy source.
About QI Stellarators
Proxima Fusion is advancing the development of quasi-isodynamic (QI) stellarators, characterized by their zero toroidal currents, which provide exceptional robustness. The W7-X is being utilized as a critical prototype and testing platform for this technology.
The company asserts, “We are convinced that QI stellarators represent the most direct route to integrating fusion into the energy grid.”
These QI stellarators are designed to eliminate instabilities driven by plasma current, thereby avoiding the disruptions commonly associated with other tokamak and stellarator designs. Furthermore, they employ an innovative heat exhaust system known as the island divertor. This concept has been successfully demonstrated at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics on both the W7-X and W7-AS models.
Unicorn Founders Back Proxima Fusion
Torsten Reil, co-CEO of Helsing, a recently unicorn-status AI defense firm, commends Proxima Fusion’s approach: “Proxima’s strategy in pursuing fusion energy is exceptionally well-suited to lead the transition to an abundant, CO2-free energy source. Their progress and execution on their roadmap thus far is remarkable.”
Niklas Köhler, Reil’s colleague and President of Helsing, also plays a dual role as an investor and advisor to Proxima’s founding team.
Alberto Dalmasso, CEO of Satispay and another investor in Proxima Fusion, shares his enthusiasm: “Proxima Fusion stands out as a potential major success story in Europe. This is a prime example of where our entrepreneurial community should unite in support of an extraordinarily capable and promising team.”
Jochen Engert, co-founder of the eco-friendly transport company Flix and a Proxima investor, highlights the team’s unique qualities: “The Proxima team is a rare find, combining top-tier academic prowess with a profound entrepreneurial mindset, a combination seldom seen in recent times.”
He adds, “We fully believe in their ability to deliver and the significant impact their stellarators could have on the environment. We’re eager to support them on this journey.”