Spotlight on 8power

A short introduction to 8power prepared for CW’s Discovering Startups 2016.

Show us a picture?

This illustrates one of our prototypes monitoring a structure.

Are you recruiting?

We’re just starting to recruit. One of the reasons for locating 8power in Cambridge is the excellent pool of talent and supplier companies that we can work with. I’ll be announcing our next senior appointment at Discovering Startups next week.

Over the coming months we’re looking to hire further technical employees, in embedded hardware, software and MEMS design, to work on developing our exciting family of technologies. The recruitment market is competitive, but joining a well-funded startup at an early stage with good share options should be really attractive for exactly the curious and ambitious people we want to hire.

Tell us about your product/service – what was the need you saw?

We see huge potential for intelligent sensors to monitor our world, making it safer and reducing costs of maintenance and inspection. But in this industrial application of the Internet of Things, battery life is a big problem. To get meaningful data from many types of sensor requires frequent or even continuous monitoring and wireless communication. The huge batteries needed to sustain this for a long time are expensive, environmentally damaging, and don’t work for all applications. The alternative is frequent battery replacement, and that’s costly too.

8power’s key differentiator is its energy harvesting technology. This gathers energy from normal vibrations present on transport infrastructure like bridges, roads and railways, or from operating machinery, enough to comfortably power sensors and wireless communications.  This is how we solve the battery problem. We already proved that it can work on the Forth Road Bridge near Edinburgh.

Companies have been developing energy harvesting technology for some time, but the conventional approach operates only in a narrow frequency range and is quite inefficient. 8power uses a completely different, patented, approach called parametric resonance. Come to see us at Discovering Startups to find out how this works! This breaks through the barriers of performance and bandwidth, giving over 10 times higher power output than competitors.

Share a key lesson you have learnt over the last year?

I’ve been surprised by how many different applications and markets could benefit from 8power’s technology. We’re focusing on a small number of lead customers and target markets. Ultimately, the opportunity is huge.

What’s your tip to stay informed about your industry?

I’m a great fan of trade shows and specialist events. We will be attending and exhibiting at several conferences to get to know those markets, and to spread the message about 8power’s cool technology and the problems it can solve. Look out for us at Advanced Engineering UK in Birmingham from 2-3 November, and at European Utility Week in Barcelona from 15-17 November.

How would you describe life in a start-up?

In one word, creative. We’re building everything, from the technology to its markets, the company and team and investor relationships. This is great fun, and we all enjoy being versatile and getting things done!

Where can I find out more?


Introducing 8power

Forth Road Bridge. Copyright image, credit Bermrunner/Shutterstock

Cambridge spin-out secures £0.7m to address market for smart infrastructure, sensors and Internet of Things

29 June 2016, Cambridge, UK

8power Limited, a new company spun out of the University of Cambridge to develop and commercialise novel technology for sensing and measurement in industrial applications, has received initial funding of approximately £700,000 from IP Group plc (LSE: IPO), the University of Cambridge and the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund III, managed by Parkwalk Advisors.

The University of Cambridge is a world leader in the science and technology of sensing, and is pioneering the research of new sensor technologies applied to condition monitoring of built infrastructure and machinery through the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction and a number of other research groups.  A system that can monitor its own condition automatically can be cheaper to build, for example by using less material, or easier to maintain, for example by scheduling servicing when needed rather than on a regular timetable.

While techniques to connect and monitor large numbers of devices (often termed the Internet of Things, IoT) are starting to mature, 8power’s technologies bring unique benefits, as they provide ways to power sensors from ambient vibration, and permit the creation of new types of sensors with dramatically lower power consumption than before.  The company’s products and services are applicable to a number of markets, including automotive and transportation, civil engineering, industrial equipment, and utility infrastructure.

The core technologies that the company has licensed from Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, were developed by a team led by Dr Ashwin Seshia at the University’s Department of Engineering.  Dr Seshia, who recently co-founded Silicon Microgravity, will head the company’s advisory board, joined by three other academic founders from this team, Dr Yu Jia, Lecturer at the University of Chester, Dr Jize Yan, Associate Professor at the University of Southampton, and Prof. Kenichi Soga, Chancellor’s Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.  The company will shortly announce that it has appointed a leading expert in wireless communications and IoT as CEO.

Dr Ashwin Seshia, co-founder of 8power, said “8power combines a number of unique world-leading technologies in energy harvesting and microelectromechanical systems to provide the basis for new energy autonomous sensor systems that can address a range of application scenarios. We are excited by the opportunity to accelerate technology translation via 8power and look forward to working together with our partners to further develop and deploy these technologies as widely as possible.”

Tania Villares Balsa, an Investment Manager at Cambridge Enterprise, said “8power is a great example of a University spin-out, derived from the work of leading academics in their field, being supported by Cambridge Enterprise from the very start. We are very pleased to continue supporting the development of this ground-breaking technology.”

Dr Robert Trezona, Head of Cleantech at IP Group, said “We are delighted to be backing this exciting technology from the University of Cambridge, and IP Group has worked closely with Cambridge Enterprise to build the business to this stage. This new capital will provide the resources to scale 8power’s engagement with potential customers and begin the development of application-specific solutions”.

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Image shows the Forth Road Bridge, where 8power’s technology has already been trialled. Credit: Bermrunner/Shutterstock (c)