£1.8m to Oxford businesses set to decarbonise transport

Advanced Propulsion Centre Coventry
Advanced Propulsion Centre, cCventry

Two Oxfordshire SMEs have been awarded a share of £1.8 million from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) to help the global race to decarbonise transport.

About:Energy from Thame and Transense Technologies from Bicester are two of 13 SMEs to receive £135,000 support through APC’s Technology Developer Acceleration Programme (TDAP), to drive the market-readiness of their next-generation technology, as the UK’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel engines grows closer.

Both businesses are developing technology that will help electric vehicles (EV) run further, for longer while at the same time improving efficiency and safety. Transense’s sensor technology is able to measure torque, temperature, pressure and strain on the motors used to power electric vehicles, delivering improvements in performance, while About:Energy’s TrueTemp allows for precise internal temperature prediction, improving EV battery efficiency.

Ryan Maughan, Director of Transense, said: “The TDAP project will allow Transense to accelerate development of its sensor technology in the automotive sector which is an exciting and rapidly growing market. We believe that technology can deliver substantial improvements in efficiency performance and safety integrity to electric drive systems. This project will allow us to develop technology in this area and help secure commercialisation opportunities.”

Gavin White, CEO of About:Energy, said: “The training and funding made available by the APC will enable About:Energy to unlock our high-impact battery thermal parameterisation, for which we are extremely grateful.”

TDAP isn’t just about grant funding, the programme also supports companies to build a robust business plan, protect their intellectual property and understand the investor landscape. Previous TDAP alumni say this, together with the networking and collaboration opportunity, is where the real value of the programme lies.

Josh Denne, APC’s Head of SME programmes, said: “Some of the technology being developed by these companies is so ‘next-generation’ it almost feels like something out of a sci-fi movie. However, these are credible, tangible technology concepts, some of which are already attracting the attention of household names in the automotive industry.

“Applications for this cohort of our SME accelerator programme have been the highest we have ever received, reflecting the opportunity within the automotive sector and the appetite for this type of support.

“We have a huge challenge to overcome to make the movement of people and goods sustainable, and it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a larger than usual spread of technology focussed on HGVs, perhaps reflecting that this difficult to decarbonise transport is fast becoming in urgent need of solutions to lower emissions.”

And the results are there to see. APC analysis shows that in total, since completing the programme, TDAP alumni have raised over £127m of private investment, 61% of that coming in 2021 – demonstrating the significant growth in green investment over the past 18 months.

Examples include Romsey-based Ilika, from last year’s TDAP scheme, who are now partnering with Comau (a subsidiary of car-giant Stellantis who also own names like Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot and Vauxhall) to industrialise their solid-state battery production.

Josh added: “Our ambition for TDAP is to see these great ideas grow into next-generation products, ultimately leading to more to CO2 savings, more jobs created and contributing to the push towards net zero as the UK cements itself as a leader in innovative propulsion technology.”