Battery cell start up expands after Business Ready support
“Business Ready’s early advice was so important because it reassured us that there is a network of people outside our organisation that are prepared to help us achieve our goals"
A battery cell start-up is set to expand and take the next step to scale-up its operation to bring its ideas to industry following support and advice from the Business Ready programme.
Global Nano Network's mission is to develop environmentally friendly battery components that can replace the limited raw materials contained in conventional batteries, such as nickel and cobalt, and improve the overall performance of lithium-ion batteries. The innovations have a broad range of applications such as electric vehicles, heavy machinery, and mobile phones, and can be adapted to work in many other practical applications.
Now support from the Warwickshire County Council-backed Business Ready programme, and also from Coventry City Council, has enabled GNN to reach a position to expand its team and further develop the technology.
GNN, based at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Venture Centre, moved to its current location in January 2021 after starting out from a makeshift lab in Costa Rica in 2017.
The team began researching how nanomaterials (tubes that can be up to 50,000 times thinner than a human hair) could be incorporated into their batteries to make them more efficient and easier to recycle. Inspired by its base in Costa Rica – the first country to pledge to become fully carbon-neutral – Global Nano Network was formed.
The team raised significant seed investment to kick-start its R&D. Now, following on from the significant progress GNN has made, the company is beginning its first scale-up phase.
GNN chief executive Ravi Daswani said: “It seemed like the perfect move considering the UK’s reputation for innovation-led R&D and the country’s investment into battery technology. Coventry and Warwickshire was the perfect location for us to get access to collaborative opportunities, superb connections and world class facilities such as the University of Warwick Science Park.”
GNN had big ideas, but needed funding to move its innovations forward and guidance on how best to apply for grants and raise capital. The team at Business Ready made contact with GNN even before they moved into UWSP, which was incredibly important to enable the team to hit the ground running.
Business Ready advisor Ian McFarlane-Toms provided invaluable advice on the funding landscape across the county and the country and ensuring they had a good relationship with the University of Warwick to utilising its facilities for R&D. With Ian’s help, the company was able to find an accounting firm from the region with the necessary start-up partnership mindset that the firm now retains.
Ian’s advice on grants applications and a later introduction to Coventry City Council proved vital for GNN to grow and develop.
Ravi said: “Business Ready’s early advice was so important because it reassured us that there is a network of people outside our organisation that are prepared to help us achieve our goals. Our integration with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) was crucial to us and meant we were able to use the expertise and facilities to test our batteries and generate data to help us to consistently improve."
The SME business support teams from both Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council helped GNN access an ERDF Innovation Grant, and an ERDF capital asset grant allowing for the purchase of equipment for its laboratory. The company is pursuing an InnovateUK grant, which if successful, could enable them to expand further.
Ravi added: “I feel very fortunate to have the support of Business Ready and the public sector too. We’ve created a solid foundation on which we can build, and are looking forward to developing our technology even further and creating valuable partnerships within the industry and academia.”
Ian McFarlane Toms, of Business Ready, said: “When Global Nano Network moved to the Science Park from Costa Rica, it was an ambitious start-up that just needed a bit of guidance to move it in the right direction. The firm has progressed rapidly in the time they have been here, and it’s brilliant that they are close to expanding thanks to the grants they have accessed, and their proximity to world class facilities such as WMG.”
Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place, said: “It’s great news that through the Business Ready Programme that is part-funded by this council, we are able to support forward-thinking and innovative businesses such as Global Nano Network to thrive and grow.
“We are fortunate that our region is already a standard-bearer of new and emergent technology and innovation and the continued success of GNN is the very latest example of that fact.”