View all news

Green energy innovation powers spin-out success

Press release issued: 3 October 2023

A new technology to check wind turbines has helped the University of Bristol turn in excellent green credentials for a national assessment.

Bristol was ranked third for the number of spin-out companies and, for the third year running, placed within the top 10 universities for attracting investment in this year’s Research England Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) results.

Cementing its reputation as a leader in research commercialisation, the University secured 9th spot for overall annual spin-out turnover totalling some £44 million. Spin-outs from the University also raised an impressive £61m of investment between August 2021 and July 2022.

KEF reviews the wide range of activities higher education institutions pursue with partner organisations for the benefit of society and the economy.

Demonstrating its commitment to advance sustainable solutions and reach net-zero carbon emissions, the university is proving a trailblazer in pioneering technologies to support green energy delivery.

For example, Perceptual Robotics provides robotics services for the renewables industry, conducting autonomous wind turbine inspections with Artificial Intelligence and drones. The spin-out raised more than £3m investment so far this year, its largest ever.

Kostas Karachalios, Perceptual Robotics Chief Executive Officer and University of Bristol alumnus, said: “Perceptual Robotics has a proud history in inspecting and processing data from wind turbines and blades onshore with trusted partners across Europe and the UK. With this latest investment, we look forward to continuing our vital work into offshore inspections and advanced analytics, guaranteeing our customers have everything they need to ensure their assets are delivering time and again.”

Its self-service software uses autonomous technology to collect high-quality wind turbine data at speed. After landing, an AI system automatically processes the images to detect any damage and quickly provides clients with all the information they need to carry out preventive maintenance, significantly reducing turbine downtime, while also improving safety and cutting costs.

Building on this green track record, Actuation Lab is driving forward future cleaner energy sources through its development of hardware to prevent catastrophic gas leakage, allowing safe and sustainable use of hydrogen.

This spin-out is the brainchild of three postdoctoral researchers from the university who are now applying the latest innovations in materials, manufacturing, and origami-inspired design to rethink industrial hardware. The team has found its niche developing solutions for industries traditionally slow to adopt new technologies but recognising the urgent need to adapt and change.

Dr Simon Bates, Actuation Lab co-founder and CEO, said: “I’m very proud of the team we have built. As well as working towards our goals with a real passion, we have a very honest and supportive group of people. We have also found these qualities in our new investors, which is key to giving us the best chance at growing Actuation Lab into one of the foremost hardware companies in the country.”

Perceptual Robotics and Actuation Lab are among just two of more than 20 spin-outs to land significant investment over the past year.

Dr Andrew Wray, Director of Research Impact at the University of Bristol, said: “The spin-out ecosystem in the Bristol region keeps growing. The University is fortunate to have a superb team of commercialisation experts who identify intellectual property, plan the route to market, and create spin-outs ready for incubation and investment.”

Bristol is fast becoming a hub for deep-tech start-ups and spin-outs with incubators and accelerators including SETsquared Bristol, QTIC and Science Creates giving companies access to invaluable training, mentoring and finance.

The full results of KEF 2023 are available on the Research England website.


Edit this page