EVO Electric started life as a spin-out from university research, and has been taken by Imperial Innovations from the licensing and start-up phase, through multiple funding rounds, and ultimately set up a joint venture with a multinational engineering firm to take their technology to market.
The EVO Electric motor developed from laboratory research being conducted by co-founders Michael Lamperth and Malte Jaensch, who were working on a motor based on an axial flux design to provide high torque with efficient heat extraction – opening up the possibility of lighter and cheaper hybrid and electric vehicles. Having developed a prototype in the lab, and seeing that there may be commercial application for their work, the EVO team approached Imperial Innovations.
Recognising the commercial potential of the technology, Imperial Innovations helped Michael and Malte to file patents around the coil design and heat transfer technology. Innovations’ Technology Ventures team then brought together a syndicate of investors to raise seed funding in order to develop the next generation motor, and brought in a management team to help take the product to market.
Imperial Innovations have helped us raise £8.8m over several rounds of funding, and their expertise has helped put us in a strong position to make our mark in a global market that is estimated to be worth €20 billion by 2020"
Co-founder, EVO Electric
The initial market for the technology was the low-volume, niche bus and truck sector – where companies are known for being more open to working with new technologies, and where hybrid motors have already started to gain a foothold.
Working from the Imperial Incubator, the team started selling a small quantity of prototype motors to interested companies, but they soon recognised that they needed larger premises for testing and product development, and that a strategy was necessary to take the product into higher-volume markets.
The company’s existing investors subscribed bridge capital to help in the move from the niche market in which they were operating to the more mainstream automotive industry, and it was decided that the best vehicle for this strategy was a joint venture, ultimately completed with the British-based global engineering firm GKN. GKN wanted access to EVO Electric’s market-leading technology for the automotive sector, while the EVO team wanted to retain their independence to pursue the market for larger vehicles.
A joint venture was therefore established between EVO Electric and GKN Driveline, in which both companies invested capital, with the JV gaining exclusive rights to exploit EVO Electric’s technology for the automotive sector. Given the higher potential for volume sales in the automotive industry, this has become the main focus for the EVO team.