To follow on from our maiden Tech Invest event, we’ve profiled some of the most exciting technology companies in the UK.
GrowthBusiness has now produced a new 2014 version of Tech Innovators, where we have again profiled some of the best technology ventures in the UK through interviews with founding entrepreneurs.
Based in: West Yorkshire
Founded in: 2012
No. of employees: 2
Company founder: Hugh Rudden
A physics graduate from Durham University, Hugh Rudden held a variety of sales and marketing roles before becoming managing diretor of Ambar Cascom in 1990. Since then he has held various MD/CEO roles in the semiconductor, high-tech capital equipment and consultancy sectors with Memec, Bede and Probucon.
Background business profile:
Fullsun’s mission is to drive down cost and simplify HCPV solar module design and manufacture so that Fullsun becomes the lead supplier to the global distributed and utility solar energy markets. We have designed what we believe is the lowest cost per watt, highest power to weight ratio HCPV solar module.
Making money in the cleantech sector has been a roller coaster for numerous entrepreneurs.
It is often a complicated process of securing patents, staying alive for the long period before revenues come in and hoping that any government support that does exists isn’t pulled away in favour of a different technology.
For Fullsun Photovoltaics, it is the high concentration photovoltaics sector which is providing the prospect for growth.
The business is developing a way to make the process more efficient and more standardised for manufacturing equipment.
‘One issue is that everything that is manufactured in factories that are very expensive, using custom-built robots which add tremendous amount of costs,’ Hugh Rudden says.
‘Taking an electronic approach to building, we’ve been able to miniaturise everything and take advantage of using equipment which is used in industry worldwide, so the cost is significantly less than that used by CPV companies manufacturing today.’
One of the issues that the cleantech venture has come across, being of the proposition scale it is, revolves around the tough calls that angel investors face in terms of providing capital to keep going.
Most VCs don’t come into the water at this stage, Rudden says, so filing the funding gap is very important.
Milestones at this stage are very dependent on funding, as the business is still at a pre-revenue stage.
‘We’ve got quite a good feel on what is out in the market. We do recognise that up to this point we’ve done a lot of outsourcing of skills which have got us this far,’ Rudden adds.
‘But it is time that as we grow the business we do that in-house, so it’s quite important that we build the team.’
- Raised £500,000 to carry out proof of concept and prototype build
- Developed supply chain to support development of prototype module
- Two patents filed
- Prototype built and ready for on-sun test
- Expansion of technical and business development team
- Transfer of all module components to a high-volume environment
- Reliability testing of all module materials and components, coupled with extensive on-sun testing to achieve IEC62108 certification
- First sales into distributed energy applications and engagement in project demonstrators with utility companies
- World’s largest III-V solar cell manufacturer
- Fresnel Optics, Germany – high-efficiency Fresnel lens plates
- ISFOC, Spain – indoor and outdoor module testing
- Fraunhofer ISE, Germany – optical design
- Finance Yorkshire Seed Corn Fund