Cleaner by design: How the APC’s TDAP aided one SME’s mission to improve air quality and decarbonisation of the vehicle development process

13/10/2020

One of the biggest challenges facing the automotive industry is air quality.

While there are moves towards zero-emission electric vehicles, the likelihood is that combustion engines will be with us in one form or another for several decades at least. Exhaust aftertreatment is one of the most important tools in the quest to reduce tailpipe emissions, and yet it’s often seen as a ‘black box’ with little information on what’s actually happening inside the system.

Belfast-based emissions data company CATAGEN has sought to demystify that process by developing a unique proprietary low-carbon toolset to aid the development of emissions systems; using a combination of bespoke low-carbon testing methodology, performance analysis and data interpretation. This gives aftertreatment specialists and powertrain engineers the reproducible data they need to optimise their systems across the product’s entire lifecycle, taking into account ageing mechanisms in new electrified powertrains.

During 2017, CATAGEN’s CEO, Dr Andrew Woods, attended a number of low carbon industry events where he discovered that the Advanced Propulsion Centre was offering support programmes specifically for SMEs. “When I looked into it, the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) struck me as a good fit for our business,” he recalls. “We applied successfully for the programme, and the support has been invaluable. It’s enabled us to accelerate the growth of the business, allowing us to take it to the next stage sooner and demonstrate the value of what we bring to customers.”

The TDAP support included £104,500 of grant funding, which the company received without having to sacrifice any equity or intellectual property. Beyond that, though, it’s also provided access to a number of industry specialists and business advisors.

“I’d absolutely recommend TDAP to other companies. It’s given us support at many levels and across many different aspects of the business,” comments Woods. “The TDAP team have always been on-call for any questions that we’ve had. The support level has been fantastic.”

TDAP has supported CATAGEN in the development of a new clean air emissions data facility with a target of 80 state-of-the-art machines on a two-acre site in Belfast. It’s also directly contributed to the creation of 12 new jobs, spanning positions in sales, engineering and HR, with a number of those employees coming from local universities.

In 2019, CATAGEN were voted the top Northern Ireland company in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards and the second fastest growing technology company in Ireland with a 1162% growth rate over the last three years.

All this means that the company is now better placed than ever to help its customers provide improved decarbonised products and cleaner air. The next step for CATAGEN is an exciting evolution into the creation of a new disruptive digital toolset to have a greater impact on air quality and decarbonisation.

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