Ilika: pioneering ‘Goliath’ solid-state battery technology
Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know. For Ilika, a UK solid-state battery manufacturer, the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK’s Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) helped them get to know the right people to put their business ideas into gear.
One of the biggest challenges many companies, particularly SMEs, will face is knowing who can support them to get their ideas off the ground, and then to keep them growing. Having a great idea, concept or demonstrator is a good start, but without knowing how or where to market it, or even how to protect it from the competition, means it can all be for naught.
This is where the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK’s (APC) Technology Developer Accelerator Programme was invaluable to Ilika. Not only did the programme facilitate meeting with industry experts who could help them to refine their go-to-market strategy, but particularly in areas such as Intellectual Property (IP) where it helped them to protect the business and their ideas.
“For Ilika, we doubt that we could have accessed automotive industry experts so efficiently, helping us gain the internal focus needed,” enthused Ilika CEO Graeme Purdy.
Before joining TDAP, Ilika – who manufacture solid-state batteries which use a ceramic electrolyte instead of a liquid one – readily admit that they “had limited understanding of the needs, trends and communication style in the automotive industry”. These areas were rectified during the programme, with the company making the most of the industry experience that the APC has to offer.
In 2018 Ilika began developing its larger format Goliath solid-state batteries designed for electric vehicles, with a three-stage scale-up plan from kWh through MWh and onto GWh.
Ilika’s solid-state batteries can operate to higher temperature than lithium-ion, enabling higher acceleration and faster charging with a lesser need to control temperature. In terms of safety, the toxic, flammable liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries is replaced by a non-flammable ceramic which will not catch fire. The entry point for this technology is the sports and luxury section of the performance automotive market, with later entry into the passenger electric vehicle market once price has reached parity with lithium-ion via industrialisation at giga-scale.
As part of the experimental phase of TDAP, Ilika initiated a programme which was more-processed based. They expected that solid-state batteries may need a less costly and energy-intensive formation and ageing part of its manufacturing, based on its lack of liquid electrolyte, and these assumptions were explored during the project.
Graeme Purdy, added:
This is another important step in the scaling-up of our Goliath solid-state battery technology that will make a significant contribution to the electrification of the automotive industry.
Since taking part in TDAP, Ilika have gone on to secure more funding through the Faraday Battery Challenge, as well as through the APC’s Scale-Up Readiness Validation (SuRV) programme, which has allowed them to ramp up to large-scale production of their solid-state battery technologies.
TDAP provides up to £170,000 in grant funding and business support to micro, small, and medium sized businesses, start-ups, and university spinouts looking to develop net-zero emission technology concepts and products for the automotive industry. The 18-month programme helps companies develop a robust strategy and business model to identify commercial pathways to market and accelerate progress through a combination of grant funding, business mentoring, and industry networking opportunities. Since 2015, TDAP has helped over 100 ambitious businesses to accelerate early-stage green transport technology concepts to market and be investment-ready.