Bac2

17thJun 2011

Innovative fuel cell technology company achieves record-breaking £2 million funding with SETsquared

The Idea/Product

Bac2 was formed in 2002 by Dr Graham Murray to exploit his invention of electrically conductive plastic material - ElectroPhen®.

ElectroPhen® is a billion times more electrically conductive than other polymers or resins. It is made by mixing readily available, low cost materials and the conductivity can be made even higher by adding materials such as graphite, metal powders, plasticisers and reinforcers) in a low temperature, low energy process.

Mike Stannard with Alistair Darling on his visit to the Millbrook  Technology Centre

The main applications for these products are in fuel cells for production of clean energy, and in electronics. In fuel cells, ElectroPhen is an ideal material for the manufacture of bi-polar plates. These are used to connect individual fuel cells together to form a fuel cell stack.

Most importantly, ElectroPhen-based formulations are easily scalable for economical mass production.

In 2008, Bac2 were named as a Guardian Library House Cleantech 100 business. The Cleantech 100 identifies the hottest 100 private cleantech companies in Europe, the selection being made by panel members representing some of the most prominent investors and experts in the sector including Siemens, Morgan Stanley, Virgin Green Fund, General Electric, Good Energies, Environmental Technologies Fund, Carbon Trust and Kreos Capital.

How SETsquared/ Tech transfer Office has helped

Dr Murray was introduced to the Southampton SETsquared Business Incubation Centre by Business Link, who had also assisted with gaining a DTI Smart Award that enabled Bac2 to undertake a feasibility study.

At the Incubation Centre, Bac2 received support in developing their business plan and identifying the clean energy fuel cell market as a sector that could benefit from this material. SETsquared also introduced first investor and now CEO, Mike Stannard to the Company in August 2005

Following Business Angel fund raising in May 2006, Bac2 went through a period of growth in the SETsquared Incubation Centre. Through the Incubation Centre, Bac2 were introduced to the Millbrook Technology Campus, and in August 2007, they opened offices and a test lab there. This move and a second business angel funding round in November 2007 enabled the company to accelerate the development of customised versions of ElectrophenTM. This test lab investment meant that Bac2 could not only release conductive plastic materials that have been tested in a genuine and properly recorded in-cell environment, but that they could also deliver them quickly and accurately to companies entering the increasingly competitive fuel cell market.

Funding

  • Initial £250,000 grant from the former Department of Trade and Industry.
  • Business Angel Funding round in May 2006, raising £500,000.
  • Record breaking funding round in November 2007 raising £2 million from the London Business Angels.

Business Won so Far

  • European Fuel Cell market: 18 customers to date, up from 9 customers since late summer 2009.
  • North American Fuel Cell market: first two orders due December 2009 (following a sales trip in November 2009).

The Team

  • David Bream, the Incubation Centre Director, introduced Bac2 to Dr Ashok Vaidya, a senior industrial research scientist, whose expertise in taking a business to stock market floatation proved beneficial to the company, as Bac2 went on to appoint Dr Vaidya as a non-executive director in April 2008.
  • Bac2 were also introduced to Mike Stannard who went on to become the Managing Director in 2005. Mike then recruited Angel Investor Michael Burrow as a Non-Executive Director (they met at a SETsquared networking event), and Investor James Lewis as Chairman, to further strengthen the board in July 2006.
  • In September 2007 Bac2 appointed Jim Totczyk as Head of Production.
  • In November 2007, Sorrel Forsey-Anderson was appointed as Business Development Manager, Europe to help the company expand its European customer base.

Most recently, Bac2 appointed Mike Rendell to run the Bipolar Plate Development Team. Rendell will be optimising the performance of bipolar pates made from ElectroPhen, to ensure that they meet the demands of a wide range of specific customer requirements.