A team of Imperial students are hoping to make avoidable blindness a thing of the past with a revolutionary imaging tool.
Meet the team
Ian Campbell, Co-founder (Mechanical engineering research 2019)
Yan Zhao, Co-founder (Mechanical engineering research 2019)
The problem and our solution
Electric cars are becoming the sustainable vehicle of choice, but uptake is still hindered by the length of time they take to charge. The current control software for charging electric vehicle (EV) batteries is usually based on static algorithms which assume the batteries only have one possible state of charge.
We are developing state-of-the-art control software that uses adaptive algorithms which consider the unique and evolving condition of every battery, known as ‘health-adaptive charging’. This allows charging to be both faster and safer and could also decrease the battery cost. Our ultimate goal is for people to be able to charge an EV in the time it takes to draw a breath. Hence the name of our company!
We are both in the final year of our PhDs in Mechanical Engineering and part of Dr Greg Offer’s Electrochemical Science and Engineering research group. The idea for Breathe Battery Technologies came to us mid-2018 when, through our research, we identified a need for significantly better charging control software that would enable faster and safer charging.
In April this year we received an entrepreneurial fellowship from The Faraday Institution which will allow us both to work on the product full time once we have finished our PhDs. Our immediate plans are to build a minimal viable product (MVP), probably with the help of the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, that we can show to our partners and early adopters in the next 12 months. Alongside this we want to refine our business and pricing strategy.
Advisors and mentors
As we are both part of Dr Offer’s research group, we benefit massively from his expertise and advice. He supervised our research and always showed significant interest in amplifying the impact of research through commercialisation. We are also lucky enough to receive commercial advice from Professor Peter Cawley who is Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering. We’re now currently seeking advisors with significant commercial experience in the automotive sector.
Enterprise Lab Support
We were part of the Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC) cohort this year (2019) which we found incredibly valuable and we won the Energy & Environment category. Since we came up with the idea for Breathe Battery Technologies, the Enterprise Lab has given us fantastic all-round support and we’ve attended training on pitching, IP, legal and commercial issues. Some of these have been masterclasses and some of them one-on-one sessions and they have all been extremely helpful.
As a direct result of the coaching we received, we have established a new technical and commercial partnership. The Enterprise Lab has also been very supportive with my co-founder’s application for a start-up visa.
Successes and setbacks
Our major successes have definitely been winning the entrepreneurial fellowship and the Energy & Environment category of the VCC final. Alongside this by establishing partnerships with various organisations, we have confidence that the electric vehicle industry has a firm interest in our products.
The only setback has been juggling our studies with our business commitments. The learning from our PhDs has been central to developing Breathe Battery Technology but it is a huge challenge to work on a PhD alongside starting a business and it can be frustrating at times when we both want to work full time on the product.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs
Imperial is a fantastic place to develop entrepreneurial ideas with plenty of support in this area. Just go to the Enterprise Lab, talk to the people there and you will find the help you need.