In its first six years, the Faraday Institution has supported 14 start-ups, which today employ 118 people (of whom 45% hold a PhD) and which have near-term plans to expand to their number to nearly 200. From a Faraday Institution investment of around £1M, the companies have yielded a 36-fold return in further disclosed funding via grants, investment funding, acquisition and product sales (as of March 2024).

The more established spinouts are thriving and making an impact to the UK battery sector and beyond. Examples of continued success include scale up of prototypes, product sales to household-name smart phone and car manufacturers, securing follow-on funding, growing teams and securing new premises.
Logos of 14 companies.

We are immensely proud of the founders and employees of this cohort of battery start-ups. Launching and growing spinouts takes a huge amount of energy, effort and acceptance of risk. We are pleased to have played a small part in catalysing the success of these companies, which have gone on to play important roles in the UK battery ecosystem.”

Ian Ellerington, Technology Transfer Director, Faraday Institution

11 of the 14 spin outs* benefitted from Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowships – a scheme that supports UK researchers looking to create new businesses and commercialise battery technologies. The programme provides seed funding, business support and mentoring to maximise the potential of success and accelerate the spin-out process.

Three spin-outs were a direct result of research undertaken as part of the Multi-scale Modelling project: About:Energy, Polaron and Ionworks, with Altelium and Breathe Battery Technologies also having links to the Faraday Institution’s modelling community.  

Illumion has evolved from Degradation project and Characterisation project research and Recovolt has evolved from the ReLiB project. 

The company’s involvement with the Faraday Institution community extends beyond the initial entrepreneurial fellowship and spin-out process. Ongoing collaboration is mutually beneficial and includes: membership of company and scientific programme boards; focused Industry Fellowships and Industry Sprints; and involvement in the Battery Parameterisation eXchange – an open standard that aims to support the wider adoption of ‘industrial strength’ physics-based modelling across the battery industry.

Company successes 

Volvo x Breathe team

In March 2024 Breathe and Volvo Cars announced they were partnering to bring adaptive charging software to new generation Volvo EVs.

Our close collaboration with the Faraday Institution has allowed us to deliver continuous enhancements to our battery technology. As a result, we now provide some of the world’s leading consumer electronics and automotive brands with battery software that makes batteries better. Today, Breathe is available on millions of smartphones worldwide, powering OPPO’s Battery Health Engine. It is also the software of choice for top automotive manufacturers including Volvo Cars who are looking for innovative technology to support their transition to electric vehicles.”

Dr Ian Campbell, Co-founder and CEO, Breathe Battery Technologies 

Illumion has benefitted from the entrepreneurial fellowship, which helped to translate academic progress into an investable business proposition. Through our on-going involvement with the Faraday Institution community, we have accelerated early-stage market research, gained unique access to an experienced knowledge pool across the battery value chain, and were able to rapidly validate our technology.”

Dr Christoph Schnedermann, Co-founder and CEO, Illumion.

Illumion’s novel optical microscopy technique offers a lab-based route to observe phenomena in battery materials.

Illumion’s novel optical microscopy technique offers a lab-based route to observe phenomena in battery materials.

Subsequent Funding Success

The £1M investment by the Faraday Institution has yielded a 36-fold return in further disclosed grants, pre-seed and seed investment rounds and product sales for the companies 

36-fold

return in future disclosed funding via various routes following a £1 million investment by the Faraday Institution

£6.8M

of grant funding has subsequently been secured by the cohort of companies. 

9

funding bodies have provided subsequent funding showing the breadth of organisations providing assistance to SMEs in the UK battery innovation ecosystem.

5

companies have benefited from the involvement of the Faraday Battery Challenge’s Investment Readiness Programme (Breathe, Solveteq, About:Energy, TaiSan Energy, Qdot).

4

companies have subsequently led Faraday Battery Challenge collaborative R&D projects (About:Energy, Illumion, OXLiD, Breathe) (Read more: News release Jan 2023, News release December 2023). 

4

companies have received follow-on funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Technology Development Accelerator Programme (TDAP) programme (About:Energy, OXLiD, Gaussion and Sention).

Tony Harper

Tony Harper

The flourishing UK battery technology industry will play a critical role in meeting our net zero targets and decarbonising the transport sector. The Faraday Battery Challenge wants to accelerate its growth, generate high value and high tech jobs, and also support individual projects exemplified by this group of start-ups – that have significant potential to improve the performance of batteries. They’re progressing well through the UK’s thriving innovation support ecosystem towards commercialisation, having the potential to generate real impact on our day-to-day lives.” 

Tony Harper, Challenge Director of Faraday Battery Challenge

The entrepreneurial fellowship provided the funding necessary for our company to begin its journey. Within two years, we have achieved significant milestones across technology, investment, and commercialisation. About:Energy has uniquely benefited from the Faraday Institution ecosystem, with founders, team members, advisors, and commercialisation activities being facilitated through ongoing government-funded projects.” 

Dr Kieran O’Regan, Co-founder and CTO, About:Energy

Thierry3 Aboutenergy with Caption: Former CEO of Renault and JLR Thierry Bolloré joined About:Energy as a non-executive director in 2023, pictured here with co-founders Kieran O’Regan (left) and Gavin White (right).

Former CEO of Renault and JLR Thierry Bolloré joined About:Energy as a non-executive director in 2023, pictured here with co-founders Kieran O’Regan (left) and Gavin White (right).

Jobs and Skills Development

The 14 spin-outs are generating high quality jobs for the UK battery sector:

118

full time equivalent jobs (as of February 2024)

45%

of job holders in the organisations hold a PhD

79

future jobs in near-term expansion plans 

16

Faraday Undergraduate Summer Experience (FUSE) interns hosted

3

of the 14 spin-outs co-founded by Faraday Institution PhD researchers 

The second year of the Faraday Institution PhD Training Programme includes a ‘Mini MBA on the Battery Business’, which spotlights entrepreneurship as one possible career route open to battery researchers and gives individuals the skills needed for researchers to flourish in such an environment. The training programme also encourages researchers to secure three-month PhD internships, which can be pivotal in defining career steps post PhD and building relationships that lead to future employment.

These efforts are delivering early successes: three of the 14 spinouts were co-founded by former members of the Faraday Institution PhD Training Programme: Kieran O’Regan (About:Energy), Steve Kench (Polaron) and Mahfuz Kamal (Recovolt). Other PhD researchers have gained valuable experience at Gaussion and About:Energy through internships, or part time involvement at About:Energy alongside their PhDs. One start-up (TaiSan Energy) was founded by a former FUSE intern, Sanzhar Taizhan.

*The 14 companies included in this analysis are those that the Faraday Institution was involved with at or before the point of incorporation. Only direct investment by the Faraday Institution to each organisation is included in the analysis (and not funding of Industry Fellowships or Sprints where grants fund the collaborating university). A number of other SMEs such as Nyobolt, Echion, Ilika, Exawatt, Eatron, TFP, THT and Finden have benefited indirectly through Faraday Institution Industry Fellowships or Sprints – but after their incorporation. Such companies are not included in this analysis.

Case study published in April 2024 with analysis completed in March 2024.