Driving success in follow-on funding for Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) participants

Getting off to a strong start can make all the difference to a start-up’s journey; the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) has been witness to that many times over. Our flagship SME funding programme aims to help early-stage clean transport technology concepts accelerate their route to market in 18 months and has seen multiple companies go from successfully graduating from TDAP to securing deals worth millions, since the pilot programme in 2015.

Over the past six years, companies that have received TDAP support during their journey have gone on to collectively raise an impressive £127m in private investment. Even more remarkable is that 2021 accounts for almost two-thirds of that total (£78 million – 61%).

Naturally, this is partly a reflection of several companies’ life-cycle stage – five TDAP graduates raised a Series A or later-stage funding round of over £7.5m last year – but it also speaks to a broader trend in cleantech investment, both in the UK and globally.

With the UK’s investment landscape visibly heating up for a new wave of clean mobility innovation, there’s every reason for SMEs to set their sights on accelerating their ambitions through TDAP Wave Six in 2022. Here are three:

On the road or in the cloud – TDAP backs net-zero tech of all kinds

Batteries have been a hot topic lately, so it’s probably unsurprising that when we break down 2021 post-TDAP investment by technology area, Energy Storage and Management accounts for the lion’s share at over £80m (63%). This goes beyond chemical batteries; there’s a healthy distribution of investment across thermal/compressed energy storage, solid-state battery technologies, battery chemistry technologies (such as anode and cathode), and related innovations – such as battery management and thermal management – that align with the outlook for priority technologies outlined in our Electrical Energy Storage Roadmap.

Does this mean other technologies don’t get a look in? Not at all. 2021 was also the year of the first TDAP company Initial Public Offering (IPO), with linear generator technology developer Libertine FPE successfully listing on the LSE AIM market – and raising £9m in the process.

From AI software to full vehicles, TDAP has supported emissions-reducing concepts of all kinds to reach new heights. Our experience to date shows that a great team with a great product, compelling business plan, and tangible traction can go on to successfully raise substantial capital. TDAP has been designed to help with exactly these things.

Centre of excellence – TDAP opens up the investment landscape

As the bridge between the UK automotive industry, government, and academia, we exist at the centre of the UK innovation ecosystem – ideally positioned to help promising SMEs take their bold next steps by unlocking opportunities across the board.

The £127 million follow-on funding figure reflects a combination of private equity investment, IPO and stock market share offerings. This world of serious investment can be tough to break into, let alone

navigate – especially for innovators outside of the golden triangle of London, Oxford, and Cambridge. Even before the work begins, just being selected for TDAP is a valued endorsement from a recognised sector-specific support body. We receive consistent feedback that participation helps companies to raise investment.

When we look at who has invested in TDAP companies, you might expect to see angel networks and crowdfunding topping the list of the number of deals – but we can also see some major players in the UK equity finance ecosystem, including regional funds like the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Highland Venture Capital and Low Carbon Innovation Fund.

Pitch perfect – TDAP accelerates investor readiness

There can be immense value in getting out of your comfort zone – quite literally when it comes to investor readiness. This is one of TDAP’s specific focus areas, for which we partner with the UK Business Angel Association (UKBAA) – the UK’s trade body for early-stage investment and the largest UK-based angel network, representing over 650 members.

TDAP participants attend private UKBAA-led seminar sessions outlining how to gain early-stage investment in the UK, at which investors come and share experience from their side, and comprehensive 1:1 pitch development sessions with the UKBAA senior team. We also run annual “Mobilise the Future: Investor Showcase” events, offering 10 companies the unique opportunity to pitch to an attentive audience of around 50 investors – each typically receiving four to five investor follow-ups. With our next event set for 23 February 2022, this could soon be you; we’re inviting applications from exciting SMEs until 4 February 2022.

We’ve also made specific investor introductions where we can. Founders are sometimes reluctant to talk to investors before they feel “ready”, but we often find that investors value an informal introduction and discussion even at an early stage.

If Blackrock CEO Larry Fink is to be believed, the next thousand unicorns will be in climate tech

The net-zero transition presents an enormous challenge, but challenge also means opportunity to change – innovation is essential to revolution. Our research, which highlights a potential £24 billion opportunity in the electrification of passenger vehicles alone, is testament to this; the shift from traditional powertrains for vehicles has opened up entirely new markets, demanding entirely new solutions.

When it comes to meeting the demand, TDAP is in a prime position to not only prepare UK clean mobility innovators, but to accelerate their progress.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) for TDAP Wave Six are open and we need your completed full application by 2 February 2022. Make sure you’ve submitted your EOI in advance of this to leave yourself enough time to complete your full application.