Three case studies
EVO Electric started life as a spin-out from university research, and has been taken by Imperial Innovations from the licensing and start-up phase, through multiple funding rounds, and ultimately set up a joint venture with a multinational engineering firm to take their technology to market.
The EVO Electric motor developed from laboratory research being conducted by co-founders Michael Lamperth and Malte Jaensch, who were working on a motor based on an axial flux design to provide high torque with efficient heat extraction – opening up the possibility of lighter and cheaper hybrid and electric vehicles. Having developed a prototype in the lab, and seeing that there may be commercial application for their work, the EVO team approached Imperial Innovations.
Recognising the commercial potential of the technology, Imperial Innovations helped Michael and Malte to file patents around the coil design and heat transfer technology. Innovations’ Technology Ventures team then brought together a syndicate of investors to raise seed funding in order to develop the next generation motor, and brought in a management team to help take the product to market.
Imperial Innovations have helped us raise £8.8m over several rounds of funding, and their expertise has helped put us in a strong position to make our mark in a global market that is estimated to be worth €20 billion by 2020"
Co-founder, EVO Electric
The initial market for the technology was the low-volume, niche bus and truck sector – where companies are known for being more open to working with new technologies, and where hybrid motors have already started to gain a foothold.
Working from the Imperial Incubator, the team started selling a small quantity of prototype motors to interested companies, but they soon recognised that they needed larger premises for testing and product development, and that a strategy was necessary to take the product into higher-volume markets.
The company’s existing investors subscribed bridge capital to help in the move from the niche market in which they were operating to the more mainstream automotive industry, and it was decided that the best vehicle for this strategy was a joint venture, ultimately completed with the British-based global engineering firm GKN. GKN wanted access to EVO Electric’s market-leading technology for the automotive sector, while the EVO team wanted to retain their independence to pursue the market for larger vehicles.
A joint venture was therefore established between EVO Electric and GKN Driveline, in which both companies invested capital, with the JV gaining exclusive rights to exploit EVO Electric’s technology for the automotive sector. Given the higher potential for volume sales in the automotive industry, this has become the main focus for the EVO team.
Naked Energy Ltd formed a couple of years ago to develop a suite of solar technologies and won early acclaim recognised through a Shell Award. It was through this that they were introduced to Imperial.
The Virtu module is a game-changing solar product providing a compact very high efficiency solar solution for domestic and commercial applications"
Professorial Lead In Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering
One of their products, Virtu, is a hybrid PVT solar device that produces both electrical and thermal power from a single module. Over the last year and a half, Imperial has been working with naked Energy testing components and analysing the data arising.
Work has been funded directly by Naked Energy but as the relationship has developed a few bids to funding agencies have been successful enabling supplementary funding for the on-going activities. This has produced valuable data for the company as it secures its IP and seeks development funding.
Naked Energy is now taking one of their designs towards production for pilot projects with Sainsbury’s and British gas
Ventive Ltd is a new SME that has generated technology for passive air management in domestic applications.
What I really like about this technology is the win-win nature of an unpowered device that delivers comfort while also addressing visual aesthetics"
Professorial Lead in Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London
Inlet air is channelled via an existing chimney void through a heat exchanger and enters a room through a fireplace opening or a low level vent. Exhaust air exits the room via an opening at high level, using flexible ducting and into the heat exchanger at the top of the chimney where useful heat energy is recovered. Circulation of flow in the system occurs due to buoyancy, and ‘pressure’ due to the ‘Pitot’ effect of a cowl.
The concept behind Ventive’s technology is simple, exchange of air to provide ventilation while limiting the heat loss or heat gain. The challenge however is significant as a result of the small temperature differences involved and the buoyant and low speed nature of the flows.
As a result of initial enquiries to Imperial, informal conversations were deepened under an NDA and then technical advice from Imperial was funded as a result of successful bids to the TSB submitted by Ventive. The relationship and work is on-going with input to experimental work and additional modelling.