Financial technology company NEX Group plc (LON:NXG) announced that it is the official global sponsor of the drone racing team XBlades.
Developed in 2014, drone racing is a motorsport where pilot’s race drones (radio-controlled aircraft or quadcopters) at speeds approaching 120mph around a course in the fastest time possible. The drones are equipped with cameras which provide pilots who remain on the ground, with first person view (FPV) of what the drone sees, while a live stream of the camera feed is projected onto screens for spectators.
Set to become the world’s next big sport, drone racing is becoming increasingly popular and inaugural professional leagues have been formed as recently as 2016. Pepsi recently started partnering with the sport to launch a drone racing series and leagues such as the Drone World Prix 2016 in Dubai have offered prize money as high as $1 million. In addition, Sky Sports began airing the Drone Racing League (DRL) in October 2016.
NEX will sponsor the XBlades drone racing team, who will be renamed NEXXBlades during the two year title sponsorship. The partnership with XBlades was a natural fit for NEX given its focus on technology and the similar values it shares with XBlades such as: innovation, speed, agility and a determination to continually improve performance.
The NEXXBlades team includes Luke Bannister, who at only 16 years old was crowned World Drone Champion in 2016. He will be joined by NEXXBlades pilots from around the globe, including Gary Kent, French National Champion, Mac Poschwald, Polish National Champion and new pilots for the 2017 season; Johnny Schaer from the US who recently came second in the inaugural DRL and is one of the world’s leading freestyle pilots and Young Rok Son, the Korean National Champion.
NEXXBlades compete around the world and their first race will be the Drone Champions League which takes place on 4 June in Paris, along a route which takes in the iconic sites of the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe, in front of an estimated 150,000 spectators.
The NEXXBlades race schedule will take in many diverse and exciting locations, from an abandoned castle in Austria, to a salt mine in Romania 150 metres underground. Races are also scheduled in New York, London, Berlin and Shanghai. NEXXBlades will be entering teams in both the DCL and DR1 the top internationally recognised open drone racing leagues.
NEX will also host five races at their London and New York headquarters.
Michael Spencer, CEO of NEX, said:
Technology and innovation are at the heart of everything we do at NEX and so we are excited to be sponsoring the pioneering sport of drone racing. To be a successful drone racing team you need speed, agility and a focus on performance, traits which NEX values immensely. We wish the team the best of luck for Paris and beyond in the forthcoming season and look forward to inviting our clients to come and experience drone racing.
Richard De Aragues, Team Principal of XBlades Racing Team, added:
In order to stay ahead of our competition, XBlades must deliver perpetual technological innovation and performance improvement. With NEX we have found a partner who shares these same values and has committed to supporting our goal.