FeTu Limited was selected to join the first wave of the APC’s Technology Development Accelerator Programme (TDAP), offering specialist technical and business support to innovative SMEs with lower technology level innovations.
FeTu entered TDAP at technology readiness level three with its novel concept that converts between volumetric and rotational energy. The focus of this project was originally an engine concept, but through the added value of the TDAP process a directional change to FeTu’s ‘Roticulating’ compressor was made to recognise the earliest revenue stream.
FeTu was created solely to host the ‘Roticulating’ concept, and its aim during its time with TDAP was to develop the concept to a point beyond doubt (TRL5+) and thereafter, to commercialise it.
In order to get to that point, it needed to spend time and focus on a multitude of areas, to include market reviews, IP landscaping and project planning a path to revenue which, along the way, would identify customers, competitors, market entry strategy, and a robust means of validation in the eyes of those customers.
Working with delivery partners such as E4tech and Productiv brought positioning and industry insight to the technology developers (TDs) throughout the project. Each gateway presented a challenging presentation and assessment from the APC, ensuring that only the fittest TDs survived to the end.
Acceptance onto TDAP facilitated private investment, supported attendance at the Space Conference 2017 and connected FeTu to E4tech. Working with delivery partners particularly in Phase 3 helped FeTu identify a target market for the compressor variant. E4tech conducted market research into the ‘oil-free’ market, providing information and assisting in formulating a strategy for commercialisation in what was deemed the easiest route to market. This work has formed the foundation for FeTu’s current commercialisation strategy. The early phases were focused on business planning, an area that FeTu were knowledgeable and competent in. However, to receive confirmation from a respected third party such as the APC that FeTu were making correct business decisions was reassuring.
The characterisation stage is where FeTu took great value in extending its understanding about how the device works and answering some critical technical questions. FeTu were able to work with leading companies in their field of expertise including Neale Consulting, Total Simulation, Wilde Analysis and ESR Technology. These identified delivery partners undertook mechanical stress analysis, Failure Mode Effect Analysis, Tribology assessments and evaluated sealing techniques. This work heavily contributed to a design refinement period in which the compressor technology made some very important advances.
With TDAP support, FeTu was able to extend its patent protection in critical manufacturing countries around the world including Japan, India and Canada. Providing further intellectual property protection and increasing company and technology value.
Further value add of the programme has been provided through the APC exhibiting FeTu at the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2017 and 2018, as part of the UK government Pavilion it runs. As a start-up, the positive impact of association with the APC and TDAP has been invaluable in creating confidence in FeTu’s technology.
TDAP was an extremely beneficial process especially for a start-up SME: it enabled FeTu to make some significant technical steps forward while ensuring the business is well placed to pursue further APC Research & Development grants and ultimately bring a step-change technology to market.
Test results at Bath University have been astounding for the first iteration – Evolution 1. Under technical guidance, a number of modifications were implemented that would allow the Evolution 2 to perform at the same level whilst being 50% the weight of Evolution 1!