Innovation news in brief: Cleantech; Malvern Hills; Silverstone Park; Hexagon Tower

Watly has created a machine that uses solar energy to sanitise up to 5,000 litres of water per day

Watly launches crowdfunding campaign

Cleantech firm Watly is launching an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign that will allow supporters to become part of its innovative solution to the world’s water, energy and connectivity problems.

Watly has created a machine that uses solar energy to sanitise up to 5,000 litres of water per day, making the company the world’s first thermodynamic computer that provides internet connectivity alongside clean water and electricity to the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The funds raised will go towards the completion of Watly 3.0 machines, each of which is capable of producing vital resources for 3,000 people, every day, for at least 15 years.

Watly has already secured European Union Horizon 2020 funding in recognition of the transformative potential of the technology.

Marco Attisani, founder and CEO of Watly, said: “Our mission is to improve global living standards for the most in-need people in the world. By delivering clean water, electricity and connectivity, we strive to empower communities with new possibilities, freeing them to realise their potential. Watly gives people the chance to dedicate their vital energy to development, education and business rather than mere survival, and so truly offers a long-term solution rather than a one-off aid gift.”

He added: “Watly represents a smart infrastructure, and is bringing the Internet of Things to places where there is no internet and very few things. This is where the internet reaches its true potential, being utilised to improve the fortunes of our fellow man.”

Green light for Phase 5 development at Malvern Hills Science Park

Technology companies are set to benefit from an additional £4 million investment into Malvern Hills Science Park as planning consent for the next phase has now been approved.

Worcestershire County Council’s Planning Committee has granted planning approval for development of Phase 5 of the Science Park, which will partly replace an existing building that is being demolished with a new two storey building.

The recently completed 30,000 square feet Phase 4 is the new home for current tenants UTC Aerospace Systems. The new building in Phase 5 will provide 16,000 square feet of floor space which will be available to new companies or existing tenants seeking to grow their businesses.

Alan White, chief executive of the Malvern Hills Science Park, said: “Clearing the old factory premises to make way for Phase 5 will transform the approach to and the look of the park into something far more befitting of the world class technologies under development here, as well as bringing new opportunities and new jobs to Malvern and beyond.”

3C Test expansion at Silverstone Park

Silverstone Park tenant 3C Test has recently expanded to cope with extra demand placed on its expertise in product-testing electrical components from vehicle manufacturers.

The company has been based inside its 12,000 square feet building at Silverstone Park for a decade and has carried out work inside to make greater use of that space and increase capacity.

“In short we’ve created another four test cells as part of expansion and given ourselves the opportunity to host conferences which we’ve never been able to do before. It’s also opened up space for us on the ground floor for us to create an internet-type café for customers,” explained Peter Sheppard, 3C Test’s commercial and operations director.

“We’ve seen good organic growth since 2006 and that has culminated in us having to make the next stage investment, which is a conversion of upstairs to include a fifth anechoic chamber (which absorbs radio waves).”

The nine-month project has culminated in a new partnership with German company INNCO, which is among the world’s top manufacturer of dynamometers.

“Certainly we are seeing enquiries from manufacturers that we hadn’t seen before,” adds Peter. “Technology is ever changing with the emergence of electric and hybrid vehicles and the rationale on how you test them are slightly different to how you test conventional petrol or diesel vehicles.

“We’re very passionate about being able to make better engineers for industry. This is an important evolution for the company and a very nice way to head into our second decade at Silverstone Park.”

BioCity-based FDAS acquired by Tentamus Group

BioCity-based Food and Drug Analytical Services (FDAS) is now part of laboratories firm Tentamus Group GmbH. The company, which has been backed by Catapult Ventures capital fund manager for the past 12 years, provides pharmaceutical quality control testing services.

Larissa Taylor, technical director at FDAS, said: "The sale of FDAS to Tentamus is without doubt the best option for the company and represents the next phase of development and growth. As part of the Tentamus Group of companies we will continue to build on our success. Part of the reason for that success has been the investment and support that Catapult have provided over the last 12 years, which has been greatly appreciated by the management team.''

Jonathan Lowe, head of investor relations at Catapult, added: ""Since we first invested in 2004, we have worked closely with the board and management team of the company to support its growth and we are very proud of the success of the business to date. We are sure that under its new owners, FDAS will continue to go from strength to strength."

Hexagon Tower sale is a "confidence" boost for science and technology

The sale of Hexagon Tower, one of five science parks across the UK to be snapped up by a US joint venture partnership between Angelo Gordon and Trinity Investment Management for £95 million, is a confidence boost for the UK science and technology sectors, says Stewart Needham, facilities manager at Hexagon Tower.

He said: “Trinity and Angelo Gordon’s investment into the facility demonstrates great confidence in the UK science and technology sectors.

“Hexagon Tower has been designed to offer science and technology firms large and small the chance to organically grow through flexible office and laboratory space alongside access to best practices and innovation from other science firms at our sites throughout the UK.

“Through this unique offer, we are able to help companies based at the science park to thrive.”

The 168,376 square feet science park, was designed by architect Richard Seifert and built in 1973 for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).

In the past year, Hexagon Tower has seen multinational firms expand their presence the science park by 16 per cent in 2015, reflecting the current growth in science and technology sectors based in the Northern Powerhouse.