Alumnus Tobias Kahnert has joined the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list. He is helping to change the path of sustainable aviation with the design and development of electric and hybrid-electric powertrain systems.
My MPhil dissertation at Cambridge allowed me to invest in research to better understand the complex interconnections of sustainable solutions for the next generation of aviation. My findings became the foundation of the company Electric Flytrain.Alumnus Tobias Kahnert
Tobias is the co-founder and CEO of Electric Flytrain – a company on a mission to accelerate the transition to sustainable aviation. Founded in 2019, the Munich-based company has successfully completed several development contracts with aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) manufacturers and raised more than $2 million in funding and grants.
The goal of Electric Flytrain’s (hybrid)-electric powertrains, which draw on the founders’ combined decades of experience in the automotive industry, is to power the next generation of sustainable mobility. The technology replaces the current purely fossil fuel-based powertrain systems of the aviation industry, providing what Tobias says is a more sustainable alternative for the aviation industry overall. This includes reduced operating costs, lower noise emissions and lower environmental emissions (i.e. CO2).
Tobias, who studied the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development at Cambridge and has a background in software development engineering for electric vehicles, was chosen by Forbes in its manufacturing and industry category, which celebrates those “creating the products, methods and materials of tomorrow”. Candidates for the Forbes list are evaluated by Forbes staff and a panel of independent, expert judges on a variety of factors, including (but not limited to) funding, revenue, social impact, scale, inventiveness and potential.
Here Tobias reveals more about his ambitions for Electric Flytrain and his career journey to date.
I am incredibly proud of the team that we have assembled at Electric Flytrain, who are designing technology for the next generation of aviation. We are building a highly innovative company – with a strong focus on sustainability – and working closely with the aviation industry. We develop tailor-made solutions for aircraft manufacturers and develop our own hybrid-powertrain product for unmanned aircraft. We have made more than €1 million in revenue since the company began four years ago.
I had a great experience at Cambridge studying for the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development. After several years in the industry, it allowed me to take a step back and look at the industry transitions that I was working on from a higher-level perspective. I wanted to understand firsthand, the true sustainability of large industry transitions (e.g. gasoline to electric vehicles). I also met a lot of great classmates who helped me to embrace new perspectives.
For me, the MPhil was the foundation to starting my own company. I chose to focus my MPhil dissertation on sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel-based aviation. This allowed me to invest in several months of research to better understand the complex interconnections of sustainable solutions for the next generation of aviation. My findings became the foundation of the company Electric Flytrain.
Persistence is probably the most important trait of a successful entrepreneur. Throughout the journey of an entrepreneur there are an incredible amount of challenges to overcome. Being persistent throughout all of these and not giving up is crucial.