LowCVP Parliamentary Reception

Meteor Power was one of half a dozen companies invited to the Houses of Parliament yesterday to discuss our plans for a high performance compact petrol hybrid engine and demonstrate our mock up to show just how small our innovative new design was going to be.

35 cm x 30 cm x 16 cm

300cc & 90 kW (120 hp)

400 hp per litre

30 Kg

60 g/km CO2

From our research we believe our engine to be half the size and well over twice the power of any of the competition.

Our goal is to be able to deliver the same performance as a top of the range petrol sports motorcycle with a third of the CO2 emissions and half the weight.

There is a long way to go yet, this two year project is likely to cost in the region of £2M once the sophisticated controller and power management and distribution electronics have been developed.

Silverstone Innovation Centre

Whilst we were clearly going to need a reasonable space to develop and begin production of our electric motorcycles we were intrigued by a competition held by MEPC, the operators of the Silverstone Park, to promote their newly refurbished Innovation Centre based just outside the circuit at Silverstone.

We had to apply in writing outlining what we were trying to achieve and how being based at Silverstone would help us secure investment and move our project forward. We were lucky to make it through to being one of eight finalists.

The next stage was to undertake a presentation in more detail on the project development, company financials, etc. to a panel including representatives from banking, education and businesses with close ties to Silverstone.

Despite running a temperature and being rather unwell our presentation went well. In fact it went well enough for us to be offered a place in the Innovation Centre for six months and the support of business mentors to help accelerate our plans.

As of the 1st December we will officially be based at Silverstone which will have a massive impact on our progress. Even before moving there we have found having a Silverstone address makes a massive impact on how we are perceived, even companies we deal with in the US and China have heard of Silverstone which makes life so much easier than trying to explain where Buckingham is located within the UK.


Science Capital Low Carbon 2014

We were invited to pitch to a group of potential investors and business experts at an event held by Science Capital at Birmingham University.

As part of our involvement in the MIA Motorsport Valley Launchpad (MSVLP) we undertook a couple of sessions of pitch training to help us fine tune our pitching, both from a delivery skills point of view and a content one.

We delivered our pitch to the panel after supplying them with a copy of our Information Memorandum that we had developed as part of our preparation for the Motorsport Valley Meets The City event. This document was our medium length business overview, quite a bit longer than our Investment Opportunity Note and much, much shorter than our full Business Plan.

The panel seemed reasonably happy with our pitch and we had some interesting discussions on the current scope of the market in addition to some talking through some future growth opportunities we had in mind we had developed our high performance electric motorcycle and associated electric drive train projects.

We were pleasantly surprised to get a call a few days later saying that we had won the Science Capital Business Plan Award for the most promising initiative and most comprehensive business plan.

Motorsport Valley Meets The City

On Wednesday we attended an event at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London.

This was an investment showcase to demonstrate some of the innovations in motorsport and generate interest and investment from the City.

We were lucky enough to be interviewed by the BBC, along with former Science Minister, Lord Drayson, and a few other notables.

You can view a brief video here (scroll forward to 1:05 if you want to catch our few minutes of fame).


TSB Innovation Grant Announcement

The decision on funding for the TSB MIA Launchpad was… Sadly, unsuccessful.

We made it through to the final and then struggled to understand the marking and feedback that led to us not being successful. Our conclusion is that the idea was sound and the implementation was mostly on target.

A couple of people suggested that the development time for our battery pack was unrealistic but must have missed the paragraph where we stated that was being developed outside of the scope for this project. It was also noted that the integration time for the final bike was unrealistic but we had also stated that the bulk of that was outside of the scope and funding of the project.

One reviewer suggested that because MotoGP had used carbon fibre frames then our idea wasn’t innovative. Except they ignored the fact that it was the design more than the material that made our proposal innovative.

There was also concern that we needed a stronger project management methodology to make sure we could deliver successfully but we can write more on that area in future.

Whilst we are disappointed not to receive the funding we feel we deserve the majority of the reasons were either our unfamiliarity with the very accounting and project management led application process and two reviewers in particular who seemed intent on reading things in to the project that weren’t there or making negative assumptions on things that we had already stated and clarified.

That gives us hope for the future as we now know how to structure the application better and know to reiterate and reword things in case reviewers prove incapable of understanding them.

It has been frustrating though, especially as one of the successful applications was making a carbon fibre swing arm for a motorcycle using a process that had already been used elsewhere and at a budget that would have seen us build over half of the bike, including battery packs, motors and all the other expensive parts of the rolling chassis.

Having spoken to other applicants since learning of the grant decision it appears very few organisations are successful on their first attempt due to the nature of the application process and the limited space available in the application itself given the complexity of the questions.

Roll on next time…

TSB Innovation Grant Update

Meteor Power applied for support from the Technology Strategy Board Motorsport Valley LaunchPad funding round in conjunction the Motorsport Industry Association.

After submitting videos for our two highest profile projects as part of the Stage process we were delighted that our ‘Innovative & Lightweight Chassis’ proposal was one of just eighteen projects accepted to go through to the next stage.

This was a much more in depth application and after much deliberation trying to adhere to the very restrictive word count the completed Stage 2 application was submitted. We suspect that these things get easier the more you do so you can better understand the feedback from previous applications and appreciate exactly the level of detail the organisers are looking for.

Now there is not much to do but wait and hope we are one of the two thirds of those eighteen projects that will received some funding to our overall costs. Fingers crossed!

TSB Innovation Grant Application 02

Most electric motorcycles these days, even the top performing electric race bikes, still rely on reprogramming the same controller that is found in other more basic electric vehicles, such as fork lift trucks.

Why can’t electric vehicles benefit from the same sophisticated electronics as their high performance petrol counterparts? A SuperBike has extremely configurable engine management and data logging capabilities coupled with traction and launch control, etc.

We know that maintaining a high speed drains the battery more rapidly due to a combination of high motor rpm and the force needed to overcome the wind resistance at speed.

If the traction control system can help the motorcycle find grip in the corner to allow it to accelerate earlier then it won’t need to reach the same high speeds in order to match a given lap time. This should result in a valuable saving in battery power meaning the machine can maintain its performance for longer.
We are building an Engine Control Unit that can be easily configured yet is capable of not only managing the power delivery itself, but also the crucial task of safely monitoring the current, voltage and temperature of the connected batteries, controllers and motors.

What’s more we believe that proven traction and launch control strategies can be adapted to give a significant performance improvement for electric vehicles as well.

The benefits from using sophisticated electronics aren’t just related to performance and safety. The additional of WiFi and BlueTooth connectivity mean the machines can be reconfigured, or logged data downloaded, the moment it pulls in to the pits.

We are looking at premises in the Silverstone area and plan to hire a number of local electrical engineers with F1 and related backgrounds and are also looking at bolstering the team with a number of graduates.

We will sell a plug in engine control unit for OEMs and other companies that wish to build electric vehicles and also complete electric power trains.

Initially the control unit will be for high performance electric motorcycles but we plan to expand it to electric cars and, eventually, even their high performance petrol equivalents.

The TSB investment will make a major contribution to building a highly capable team of electronic and power train engineers to develop this unit. By association it will add to the credibility of our project and will help educate our leadership team and support us in finding additional investment to put our designs in to production.