Zapinamo is a highly innovative SME based in Coventry that has developed a rapid and portable charging solution for electric vehicles. This unique technology can charge cars much faster than traditional methods and can be deployed wherever it is needed.
The company worked with KTN to develop the prototype, find funding and partners and to test its efficiency. Electric vehicles do not produce emissions at the point of use, and are one of the few options for removing carbon from transport. Zapinamo’s technology has the potential to dramatically increase their uptake by overcoming current barriers caused by the limited availability of charge points, slow charging times and localised grid capacity constraints.
KTN has been instrumental in directing us to competition calls, helping us find investment and showing us where our technology can be used. They have helped us to understand how we fit in and how to apply for funding, as well as introducing us to potential partners, customers and suppliers. It’s an invaluable service money just couldn’t buy, because it’s free.
Zapinamo was formed two years ago by CEO Tim Martin and colleagues and was awarded an Innovate UK grant for a feasibility study, ‘Solving Urban Challenges with Data’. Zapinamo’s research showed that the quoted EU range of 100 miles for a fully-charged electric car was unrealistic – especially in cities, where due to congestion and average speeds as low as 4mph the actual range could be as little as 25 miles. London taxis typically cover over 100 miles a day, making widespread conversion to electric cars difficult because, despite investment, there are not enough charge points to meet demand.
Zapinamo proposed a solution using a new and advanced battery that lasts much longer than Li-ion Automotive batteries and can despatch energy very quickly. This allows it to provide mobile charging facilities which can harvest electricity from the grid overnight, when demand is low, and store energy to make available to vehicles during the day.
The company name stands for ‘zap in a moment’, and as well as rapid charging it offers technology which is so portable that it can be transformed into a mobile service and taken to ‘zap’ spots in vans. Drivers can book a charging slot and arrange to meet the units using a mobile phone app.
Mark Matchett, Knowledge Transfer Manager for Transport at KTN, has supported Zapinamo and aided its thinking at a number of steps along the journey. Latterly, KTN helped the company to access funding for a Low Emission Freight Trial competition and introduced Tim to grocery delivery company Farm Drop.
Farm Drop uses electric vehicles for its deliveries around London, but operates out of Bermondsey, where there is limited charging capacity. This means the company is unable to grow in line with demand, as it cannot recharge once its fleet has run out of power.
As well as helping set up the freight trial, KTN also helped Zapinamo contact the Head of Sustainable Transport at Heathrow Airport at a KTN event to launch European Horizon 2020 funding in 2015. Zapinamo will work with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, another partner introduced by KTN.
Heathrow aims to replace its petrol and diesel ground vehicles with electric ones, and Zapinamo have now secured £3.1 million Innovate UK First of a Kind (FOAK) funding, with the assistance of expert subcontractors and help from KTN, who reviewed the application. The funding is to install a unit that can charge up to twenty vehicles at a time and which, when completed, will be the largest device of its type in the world.
KTN’s Mark Matchett says, “Take-up of electric vehicles has been slower than hoped in the UK, where the government’s climate advisors have recommended a target of 9% of cars to be electric by 2020, but Zapinamo’s technology will help to tackle infrastructure problems, and enable more drivers to make the switch, helping to reduce air pollution.”
- KTN has worked with Zapinamo to help them research and apply for competition calls and find investment money.
- KTN has introduced the company to potential partners and customers, including Heathrow Airport and Farm Drop, as well as WMG’s SME Group, a partner in the Heathrow FOAK (First of a Kind) Consortium
- Zapinamo has now secured over £4 million in funding to continue to prove and commercialise its technology
- The technology has the potential to help Government, local authorities and private businesses overcome the barriers to vehicle electrification, helping them reduce emissions and costs
- KTN’s Access to Funding and Finance team continues to support Zapinamo’s journey to commercialisation.