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Successful British engineering firm to invest millions into the Midlands through research into automotive supercharging and industrial air compression.


Lontra, the fast-growing Midlands firm backed by the Technology Strategy Board and The Carbon Trust, today announced the opening of a fresh funding round to secure new licensees for its ground-breaking Blade Compressor®.


The funds will support expansion into lucrative new markets in automotive supercharging and industrial air compression. The move provides investors with an opportunity to back a firm that this year granted global engineering business Sulzer a license to manufacture pumps based on its technology in a deal worth tens of millions of pounds in revenue over the next 20 years.


Funds raised through the round, expected to be Enterprise Investment Scheme qualifying, will fund a multi-million pound research and development effort to extend Lontra’s proven and patent-protected technology into new markets. Lontra’s Blade Compressor® is a replacement design for the industrial pumps and blowers that consume 10% of European industrial power. It represents the first clean sheet design in nearly 80 years for a market worth well over £20bn per annum, where today’s machinery is still based on designs dating to the 1935 Screw Compressor, Roots Blower (1867) and Vane Compressor (1588).


Lontra’s recent license to Sulzer was for the £600m per annum municipal and regulated waste water aeration market. Pumps incorporating the Blade Compressor technology are equally applicable to the industrial waste water aeration market, which is three times as large at £1.8bn per annum. Future R&D will adapt the Blade Compressor technology to match the needs of the industrial blower market with a view to seeking licensees for non-water applications of the same machines for industries ranging from cement, fabric and carbon black manufacturing to power generation worth a combined £2bn per annum.


CEO and founder Steve Lindsey, likened to British inventor and industrial designer Sir James Dyson by The Carbon Trust, says:

“Our technology is proven, licensed and in production. The myriad benefits of our novel design include low maintenance, low cost manufacture and low energy use. We have demonstrated the Lontra technology to great acclaim in the Water Industry with Severn Trent Water’s first machine having run the equivalent of 3 years duty without issue with their own figures showing a saving of electricity of 21%. This is a step-change in efficiency where many industries chase a few per cent gain. On the back of this trial Lontra won at the prestigious 2013 Water Industry Innovation Awards. We are now seeking investment to take this proven technology into new and even larger markets where our machine’s very high reliability and step change in efficiency will make a significant impact.”


To date Lontra has secured £5m toward the development of the technology and the business: £2.9m equity; £1.1m development finance/IP license revenue from partners; and £0.94m from public R&D grants. Equity investors to date include Imperial Innovations, Seven Mile Capital and MidVen, together with angel investors. Board members and their associates have invested £1.4m.


Lindsey is supported and mentored by Executive Chairman Peter Watson OBE. The former engineering director for British Rail was also Chief Exec and Chairman of AEA Technology where he was part of the team that licensed the Lithium Ion battery to Sony, technology that is today used in nearly all laptops and mobile phones. Lontra’s UK business development is run by the ex-Sales Director of leading compressor service company Motivair and the firm has a strong and growing representation in the US.


Lontra, a fast growing Midlands firm licensing intellectual property (IP) to technical and commercial partners, has secured grants from the Warwickshire Rural Growth Network to support the creation of world-class research and development facilities at its site in Napton, supporting a predicted additional 15 jobs.


The grants, worth over £45,000, will contribute to the construction and fitting of a testing lab that will allow Lontra’s 10 strong research and development engineers to refine new prototypes and further potential applications for its award winning Blade Compressor technology. The compressor is seen as such an innovative breakthrough in engine design, that its creator has been hailed as ‘the new James Dyson’.


The Warwickshire Rural Growth Network is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to grow business in rural areas and is one of just five Rural Growth Network (RGN) pilots in the country. The network comprises partners, including those within the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with Warwickshire County Council responsible for administering the grants of between £10,000 and £100,000.


Lontra applied to the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership for funding from its Rural Growth Network’s Micro-Enterprise Grant scheme which gives companies which specialise in products with environmental benefits access to funding.


Grants from £10,000 to £100,000 are available for eligible projects and applicants are supported by Warwickshire’s Rural Growth Network Team and the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Support team.


The latest grants will be important in helping Lontra attract further commercial interest. The company’s technology was earlier this year successfully licensed to global manufacturer Sulzer for design into aeration equipment for the treatment of waste water.


Steve Lindsey, CEO and founder of Lontra, commented:

“I’m delighted to have secured this financial support and it comes at a crucial time for our business. Over the next two years we will more than double the size of our team in Napton, creating up to 15 new jobs, as we explore the many potential applications of our technology. We’re showing that the Midlands continues to lead the world in engineering know-how, with our advances helping reduce energy bills and achieve greater reliability across a wide range of industries.”


Cllr Alan Cockburn, portfolio holder for economic development with Warwickshire County Council, sees Lontra as an exemplar of what can happen when a company is given a helping hand.


Cllr Cockburn said:

“The success of Lontra is a story that we would love to see more of in the county. The assistance that we gave them helped them to move up to the next level and once they had done so, more contracts came in. This has led to more jobs and so the positive cycle continues.”


Cllr June Tandy, Board member of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, stated:

“It is heartening to see local businesses applying for and receiving grants to help them with growth within the business sector. This is exactly what the LEP is there for; to ensure that economic growth is concentrated around Warwickshire and Coventry.”


The Blade Compressor® was awarded Most Innovative New Product at the 2013 Water Industry Achievement Awards and described as a “step change in air compressor technology”. It has been proven to deliver energy savings of over 20% with its unique geometry providing internal compression with very low leakage and low inlet and outlet flow losses. It is oil-free and is made from standard, proven materials, the efficiency and low maintenance benefits coming from the geometry rather than novel materials or expensive machining.



Novel IP has potential to reduce energy bills in water treatment by 20%.


Lontra, a fast growing Midlands firm, has secured the first global license for its Blade Compressor® technology. The deal signed today with Sulzer, a global leader in pumping equipment with 21 manufacturing facilities worldwide, will see aeration equipment incorporating the British technology sold across 150 countries.


The Blade Compressor® was awarded Most Innovative New Product at the 2013 Water Industry Achievement Awards and described as a “step change in air compressor technology”. The novel design means the compact double acting rotary compressor is simple to manufacture. It has been proven in commercial operation with Severn Trent Water to deliver energy savings of over 20% compared to existing compressor technology.


The licensing deal provides Sulzer with global rights to incorporate the Blade Compressor® design into aeration equipment for the treatment of waste water. Sulzer offers a wide range of aeration systems for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. The deal does not restrict the ability of Lontra to license the Blade Compressor® across related applications such as industrial compressed air.


Steve Lindsey, CEO and founder of Lontra, commented:

“Today’s deal with Sulzer is significant, but it’s the first of many potential applications of our intellectual property. We’re challenging the industry to think differently about compressor technology to deliver a better performance, better reliability and significant energy savings across a wide range of industries.”


Scot Smith, Division President of Sulzer Pumps Equipment, remarked:

“Incorporating Lontra’s technology into our product portfolio will provide our customers with the high-tech solutions they need to significantly reduce their energy and operations costs for this type of equipment. The advantage of the Blade Compressor® is that it is the geometry of the design rather than advanced materials that deliver the superior performance. We therefore expect maximum reliability and minimal life cycle cost.”


Water treatment is an energy intensive activity; accounting for 1% of the UK’s energy usage. Energy typically represents 28% of the operating costs of water industry operations, with aeration accounting for 55% of this . Severn Trent Water’s Chief Executive Tony Wray said that the Lontra Blade Compressor would save them £1.8M a year in electricity costs and reduce their carbon emissions by 3% if rolled out across their estate.


The Blade Compressor® is an innovative design which delivers significant efficiency gains over competing technologies. Its unique geometry gives internal compression with very low leakage and low inlet and outlet flow losses. The low leakage allows a wide range of efficient operation and allows the compressor to be directly coupled to a standard industrial motor rather than requiring a gearbox or belt drive. It is oil free and is made from standard, proven materials, the benefits coming from the geometry rather than novel materials or expensive machining.


Lontra has secured a letter of intent for 10 Blade Compressors® from Severn Trent Water, the first for this revolutionary new technology. The Blade Compressors® have been sold for installation in waste water aeration applications, where the new compressor reduces energy usage by over 20%.


Severn Trent Water has taken a leading role in the development of the energy saving technology, including development support and a site trial.


Simon Ashcroft, Lontra Commercial Director:

“Severn Trent Water has worked closely with Lontra and fully recognise the potential of the Blade Compressor® to reduce operating costs for their business. The very substantial lifetime energy usage reductions also meet their environmental and social priorities. The Blade Compressor® is unique in offering a 20% energy saving, which is a step change in the compressor industry.”


Severn Trent Water is one of the UK’s largest water and waste water companies. Mark R Jones, STW Waste R&D Manager:

“Severn Trent Water has been closely involved in the development of the Blade Compressor®, which we believe has the potential to contribute significantly to meeting our challenging waste water operational efficiency targets. The progression from a one off full scale pre mass production unit, to this conditional Intent to Purchase, is the next logical step for us as we undertake further durability and performance evaluation in the field.”


Lontra has prioritised waste water applications in its development roadmap. Activated Sludge Aeration accounts for 55% of the energy cost of waste water treatment, and is a major operating cost for the water industry.


Peter Watson, Lontra’s Chairman:

“Our first product sales are an important milestone in the development of the business. We look forward to further sales throughout 2012, where the water industry is our prime focus, and subsequent roll-out of the Blade Compressor® into new markets and territories.”


Severn Trent Water has taken a leading role in developing the Blade Compressor®, a novel technology which reduces energy spend on waste water aeration by 20%, backing technology start-up Lontra. In August the project secured a grant of £390k from The Carbon Trust in recognition of the energy saving potential, and the technology is being developed for trial on a Severn Trent Water site.The move strengthens Severn Trent Water’s (STW) relationship with the UK based clean tech start-up. STW has contributed to the specification of the Blade Compressor® for waste water aeration and is providing a test site at Worcester for a pre-production prototype.


Simon Hombersley, Lontra Business Development Director:

“Severn Trent Water’s long-standing support for the Blade Compressor® has ensured that we develop the compressor in the context both of the commercial priorities of the water industry and the technical specification for compressors for Activated Sludge Aeration. The Carbon Trust’s support is hugely valuable in bringing the project together, and recognises the substantial carbon reduction potential in improving efficiency in waste water aeration.”


Severn Trent Water, one of the UK’s largest water and waste water companies, has taken a leading role in developing solutions that reduce its energy consumption and meets its environmental objectives.


Mark R Jones, STW Waste R&D Manager:

“The Blade Compressor® should deliver significant benefits to our business through improved operational efficiency and contribute to a reduced carbon footprint. We are assisting with the development of this technology as we see the potential that this very novel design offers.”


Waste water aeration in the UK consumes very high levels of energy, and alone represents 55% of the energy cost of waste water treatment.


Caroline Fleming, Carbon Trust R&D Manager:

“The Blade Compressor® has the potential to make a significant reduction to the carbon impact of the water industry, and to be a commercially successful product. We are delighted to be supporting a technology that will have such a transformative impact on its marketplace.”


Lontra is prioritising the development of low pressure compressors for waste water aeration, alongside its other priority markets which include automotive superchargers, where the company has a development project underway with Ford. Lontra is in discussion with other water industry partners for further site trials for the Blade Compressor® from the end of 2011, ahead of the roll out of a full product range for waste water aeration.


The former Group Sales and Marketing Director of Motivair Simon Ashcroft has joined Lontra as Commercial Director.


Simon previously grew the business of Motivair and developed innovative products and services for the company, which is the UK’s largest compressed air management company. He secured and managed major customers and projects for compressors throughout the UK especially engaging with facilities management companies and energy reduction programmes.


Simon Ashcroft, Lontra Commercial Director:

“Lontra’s Blade Compressor® is an exciting new technology which delivers a major gain to industrial air compressor users – reduced energy spend. I’m delighted to be joining the company, and look forward to making a major impact on the compressor market in the UK and overseas.”


Lontra is developing the novel Blade Compressor®, a major development for the industry which reduces energy use by 20%.


Peter Watson, Lontra Chairman:

“Simon strengthens the Lontra team with his detailed understanding of the needs of compressed air customers and his experience of innovative compressed air solutions. He reinforces the company’s focus on the core markets for the Blade Compressor®


Clean Tech developer Lontra has provided the first glimpse of the innovative Blade Compressor®, a technology that has been in development by the company since 2004.


The compressor, which was designed by Lontra’s Technical Director Steve Lindsey, is a rotary device with a wrapped toroidal chamber. The key features are a rotating blade, which passes through a slot in a rotating disc once per cycle. The unit is therefore a compact, double acting rotary compressor. An animation of the design, and an explanation of the technology, are at Lontra’s website


Prototypes demonstrate a 20% efficiency gain over traditional compressors, and has an innovative variable port design which allows it to meet changing application requirements whilst maintaining constant speed. The company has development projects underway with leading partners, including a development project for waste water compressors jointly funded by the Carbon Trust and Severn Trent Water.


The compressor is the core mechanical geometry of the range of Lontra’s applications, including the Blade Supercharger®, Blade Expander® and Lindsey Engine® technology.



Midlands based clean tech start-up Lontra has launched a recruitment drive, as it scales up the business to deliver development projects for customers and partners. The company, which develops energy efficient compressors, superchargers and engines, is recruiting design engineers, production engineers and project managers.


Clive Hudson, Chief Development Engineer:

“Lontra is at a dynamic stage in its growth. With the technology proven, we’re now in relationships with world leading customers to develop technologies for specific applications in automotive, water and industrial sectors. It’s highly innovative, challenging work and we require skilled, creative engineers with vision and drive to join the team.”


Lontra, named after otters which are particularly susceptible to climate change, is a clean tech company, and its products reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.


Simon Hombersley, Business Development Director:

“It’s an exciting opportunity for engineers to transfer skills from older industries into the new clean tech sector, which faces massive growth over the coming years”.


The Carbon Trust, the UK’s non for profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, has released a film about Lontra and the innovative Blade Compressor®.


The Carbon Trust has incubated Lontra and provided grant support, and the film highlights the potential of the technology for energy savings and the role of the Carbon Trust in developing Lontra.


To view the Carbon Trust video click here


Environmental technology developer Lontra has relocated to the Midlands. The company has co-located temporarily with its manufacturing partner GE Precision Engineering ahead of a permanent move to its own facilities in 2011.


Clive Hudson, Lontra Chief Development Engineer:

“GE Precision Engineering has the creative design skills and precision manufacturing experience that Lontra needs, under one roof. The team shares Lontra’s values and dynamism, and we look forward to working together to develop the Blade Compressor® and Blade Supercharger® for customers over the coming months.”


Simon Hombersley, Lontra Business Development Director:

“The Midlands is an ideal location for Lontra, with the engineering skills available in the workforce; a strong supply chain geared towards high value engineering; and a number of our customers in the region.”


The innovative and fast growing start-up will be recruiting engineering and other staff through 2011.