Echion is a Cambridge based spinout company from the University of Cambridge, with a focus and expertise on high performance materials innovations for Li-ion batteries. Echion engages with chemicals and battery cell manufacturers to commercialise next-generation Li-ion battery cells incorporating their proprietary materials innovations and battery designs. Echion adopts a “drop-in” approach whereby the battery components they develop integrate seamlessly into the existing battery manufacturing infrastructure with no additional capital cost. The company currently focuses on developing a superfast charging battery cell for the electric vehicles market, targeting a 6-min full charge, same energy density and cost as standard batteries, and extended durability.
The individual behind this success story is Jean De La Verpilliere. Jean studied at the French university, Centrale Supelec, before embarking upon a PhD at the University of Cambridge studying Nanotechnologies. It’s a decision that has been justified as Jean notes ‘There is just a wealth of expertise and opportunities here in Cambridge.’’
Halfway through his PhD, Jean created a material platform that is at the heart of the technologies developed by Echion today. Jean founded Echion Technologies in 2017, the final year of his PHD, alongside his two Cambridge University supervisors and Dr Alex Groombridge who is now the CTO of Echion.
How Newable Helped
Jean was introduced to Alexander Sleigh, Investment Director of Newable Private Investing, through Cambridge Enterprise. As Jean recalls the relationship was instantly genuine.
‘’Alex was very friendly as we held a number of meetings to establish a professional understanding. We then moved to the Due Diligence stage that was thoroughly carried out by the investment analyst. Once this stage was complete, we were we offered the chance to present in front of the Investment Committee. I was impressed with how the Investment Committee understood the timescale of our technology and that we needed time and space to fulfil the potential of the company’’. This was underpinned by an impressive network of expertise that Newable were able to present to Echion, a network that we are making full use of currently!’’
When considering investing in Echion Technologies, Alex recalls three key reasons why Newable decided to invest the capital. ‘’As a committee, we felt the product that Echion were producing was superior to anyone else in the market, particularly with regards to the time required to charge the batteries. Furthermore, the support that Echion received from a world class institution in the form of Cambridge Enterprise gave us huge confidence, allied to the feeling that the majority of autonomous vehicles in the future will be powered by battery technology’’.
Echion is now thriving, employing 13 highly-skilled scientists and engineers, and running their new pilot-scale materials production and battery testing facilities to bring their unique product to market
As product development is progressing, commercial activities are ramping up, and Echion have held productive conversations with a number of OEM companies while also securing an official partnership with Vantage Power Ltd, that designs and manufactures electric and hybrid systems for buses and heavy goods vehicles.
These exciting developments bring an added pressure, something that Jean is more than aware of. ‘’We really need to have finished the design of our final product within 12 months, so we can enter commercialisation by the autumn of 2020. This will coincide with us looking to raise our Series A round at the beginning of 2020, where we look forward to working with Newable Private Investing!’’
Moving forward, the team at Echion are very excited for the future. The shift in government policy towards net zero emission is in Jeans eyes a game changer.
‘’It now means that the automotive sector is being proactive about trying to find the best battery technology, something at Echion we stand ready to deliver!’’
When asked for any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs. Jean has simple message; pick your investors wisely and be persistent.
For more information on Echion, please visit www.echiontech.com/