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Radical Fibres: Revolutionising materials through nanotechnology

Radical Fibres: Revolutionising materials through nanotechnology

Radical Fibres is using electrospinning to turn polymer materials into nanofibers that have a huge range of uses. From flexible sensors, filters of nano-sized pollutant particles, to next-generation composites, Radical Fibres is a game-changing manufacturing platform. This materials technology is applicable to aerospace, architecture, automotive, energy, infrastructure, marine, military, and sports/recreation. This applied nanotechnology will enable stronger, lighter vehicles resulting in fewer emissions and cheaper travel via a reduction of fuel usage and CO2 emissions. In addition, the nanofibres are also being used in the creation of lightweight particulate filter masks to both block and kill viruses.

Radical Fibres: Revolutionising materials through nanotechnology

FACT FILE

Start date: 2019

Website: Visit website

Location: Guildford

Employees: 5

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

Funding: Grants: £500k; Equity: In progress

KEY MILESTONES

2014

Patent applied for

June 2019

Started on ICURe programme

April 2020

Innovate UK funding approved

October 2020

First large customer sale

January 2021

Private investment deal agreed

“Leading up to ICURe I was already in touch with another electrospinning company in New Zealand who were interested in collaborating together. In 2018 I was granted funding for a four-month secondment to the company, which was an amazing experience to see and a commercial electrospinning manufacturer in action. It taught me the first steps in setting up a company, and from there the decision to start the spin out process from the University of Surrey was a natural next step.”

“My first thought was to seek investment, but it was difficult to find the right people as an academic researcher. Instead, I looked at alternative funding streams, and ICURe stood out as an opportunity to undertake market validation and help take my ideas out of the lab and into the market. I first applied to ICURe in 2018 but was unsuccessful, so I applied again in 2019 and secured a place.”

“The ICURe programme was exceptional, but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted however. The first week of the programme was stressful because it was so intense; you have to be mentally prepared for the challenge. Undoubtedly it changed my business strategy. During the market validation phase I was able to get out there and speak to real customers. Sometimes the feedback is not what you want to hear, but it’s worth it as that’s how you adapt and grow.”

“Initially my plan had been to licence the technology and sell the patent, but at the Options Roundabout it became very clear that if I wanted to make anything out of the patent, I should be using it to make a product instead. From the market validation findings we planned to focus on inter-leaf materials that make composites stronger. At the time we didn’t appreciate how much of a demand there would be later for face mask filters for viruses.”

“Due to the pandemic, we were able to quickly pivot the main business focus to produce filters for facemasks. It wasn’t something I had planned to do, but it was an obvious business decision due to the overwhelming global demand.”

“We secured our first investor at the follow-up Midlands ICURe Investor Showcase Event, and that investor has now offered us £50k, which we will be match-funded by the University’s Seed Fund, so it’s a great first step. Due to the pandemic, it did force delays to our investment deal, however we did manage to raise an additional £50k through personal investment, to get the company started.”

“Looking ahead we are in the process of getting the patent assigned to us and to complete the university spin out process this year. We’ll then be looking to take another investor on board, which has been a real challenge in the current climate. Due to COVID-19 you can’t just go out and meet investors or go to pitch events, so we’ve had to shift our focus and get to grips with online networking. We also plan to make new hires and find new sales opportunities through marketing, there’s a lot of opportunity out there.”

 

Dr Simon King

Dr Simon King, CEO and Founder
Radical Fibres Ltd

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