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August 3, 2021 | Case studies

The Future of Power

The Future of Power

A ground-breaking technology firm

Surrey Research Park tenant, Superdieletrics is a ground breaking energy storage technology firm, which was established in 2016 and has a mission to solve the world’s renewable energy storage problem.

Its focus is on the development of high energy density, low cost, low environmental impact electrical energy storage devices that will help create a clean and sustainable global energy and transportation system.

Supercapacitors store energy using electrodes and electrolytes and both charge and deliver energy quickly, unlike conventional batteries which perform the same task in a much slower way with the added hazard of end-of-life waste. Superdielectrics’ supercapacitors are safe, fast, contain no rare materials or conflict metals and have the added benefit of reducing pollution and waste. They could have a wide variety of uses such as recharging mobile devices very quickly or enabling electric cars to travel without the need for lengthy re-charging times.

Game-changing research from the University of Surrey Research

Superdielectrics began its research programme at the University of Surrey in 2014 because Dr Highgate, a reader at the University of Surrey, had close relationships with a number of academics in the chemistry department. Now 80, the University of Surrey was conveniently located for him to travel to in order to supervise and monitor the research.

Having had major scientific breakthroughs with contact lenses and ITM Power Ltd, he had high hopes of discovering unusual electronic properties in polymer materials which could be used for storing renewable energy.

The research team discovered novel polymer materials that have dielectric properties 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than existing electrolytes (electrical conductors), which could be used for storing renewable energy. This was a major breakthrough, opening up a potentially highly lucrative market with the ability to transform the global power industry and decarbonise the world economy.

Commercialising the research with a team at Surrey Technology Centre

In December 2020, Superdielectrics raised money and invested in lab space at the Surrey Technology Centre to take the first steps towards turning the initiative from research into a business. The organisation has subsequently recruited a team of four academics, all with PhDs, to focus purely on the research. In June 2021 Superdielectrics expanded to three units at Surrey Technology Centre in order to accommodate increasing levels of research.

Links between the Surrey Technology Centre and Surrey Research Park are fundamental for us. We continue to have three academics based at the University of Surrey and believe that with this set up, we have the benefit of both worlds. We get access to the brainpower and equipment of the University of Surrey’s chemistry department and we can focus on the more commercial side of the research at the Surrey Technology Centre so we can move fast with some of our work. It’s an optimal solution, “ Jim Heathcote, CEO, Superdielectrics.

The team at Surrey Technology Centre is working closely with Superdielectrics’ team in Cambridge who are taking the science and turning it into a product, ideally to be manufactured in the UK within the next 12-24 months. The offices in Cambridge are also where Finance Director, Marcus Scott is based. Marcus was previously CFO at ITM Power and has a wealth of experience in fundraising and investor relations.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING LOCATED ON SURREY RESEARCH PARK?

Jim Heathcote concludes, “I’d strongly recommend Surrey Research Park. It is an excellent stepping stone from the University of Surrey to commercial activities.  For us, as I’m sure it is for many others, the research started at the University and we took the next logical step which was to employ people ourselves and to start to grow a business at Surrey Research Park based on our research.

“There are plenty of other benefits of being based at the Surrey Technology Centre, such as mentoring and business growth support, but we haven’t needed to access this given that our senior team has previously been involved in successfully scaling major research-based businesses.”

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