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Midlands firm Lontra has secured a £250,000 grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, through its Smart programme, to develop a prototype of its revolutionary Blade Compressor® for application within general industry.


The ‘BladeAir’ project signals Lontra’s first move into the industrial compressor market worth well over £2billion per annum. It follows the Napton-based company’s success in the £600million per annum municipal and regulated wastewater industry, where the technology was licensed to global engineering business Sulzer in a multi-million pound deal last year.


Almost all (c. 90%) manufacturing industries use compressed air in some aspect of their operations; it is often referred to as the fourth utility after gas, water and electricity. It is used for everything from powering the tools in factories to powering the spray guns which paint our furniture and cars. Yet current industrial air systems are based on designs dating back to 1935 that are expensive to manufacture and maintain, and are energy inefficient.


Steve Lindsey, founder and CEO of Lontra and designer of the Blade Compressor®, says:

“Industrial air is a large market. Compressors are one of the most energy-intensive tools. But the fact is today they are inefficient; either the air leaks or is not compressed properly. I believe we can take a big bite out of the industrial compressor market thanks to our efficient, oil-free design.”


Lontra’s proven and patent-protected Blade Compressor® is the first clean sheet compressor design in 80 years. A circular mechanism replaces the old ‘up and down’ piston technology, compressing air – or gas – in front and inducing the air behind in continuous motion, minimising waste. For applications such as food processing, its oil-free design removes the risk of product contamination.


Clive Patten of Sulzer Pumps, says:

“Incorporating Lontra’s technology into our compressor product portfolio will provide our customers with another high-tech solution allowing them to significantly reduce their energy and operational 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 delivers the superior performance. We therefore expect maximum reliability, which combined with the efficiency will deliver best in class life cycle costs.”


To assist in securing licensees and customers, Lontra today announces the appointment of Rick Stasyshan as Head of Business Development in North America. The Rutgers University graduate spent 24 years with Sullair Corporation as Vice President and General Manager. He is a technical consultant to the Compressed Air and Gas Institute, an industry focused trade association supporting the compressor industry whose members include all major global compressor companies.


Lindsey added:

“Rick’s appointment reflects our ambition at Lontra to build on our success and expand into new applications and markets. With the total global compressor market worth more than £20billion per annum and growing, the market opportunity is huge.”


Compressors represent 10% of industrial electricity usage in Europe and as much as 40% in some plants. That equates to more than 10TWh of electricity every year and 4.3 million tonnes of CO2.


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.


CleanTech start-up Lontra has secured £360,000 investment in a finance round led by West Midlands-based venture capitalists Midven. The investment in Lontra, from Midven’s Early Advantage fund, coincides with the company’s relocation to Napton, Warwickshire — as part of a significant phase in its development of energy efficient compressors and engines.


Midven, which invests in small and medium-size enterprises, led the investment round which included UK and US angel investors, alongside grant finance and customer development deals to be announced by the company shortly.


Andrew Muir, Midven Director, said:

“Lontra has broad intellectual property protection for their energy efficient technology with multiple applications in global markets. Midven is delighted to be investing in the company to fuel the next stage of growth.”


Lontra is an innovative clean tech business, which is developing a proprietary energy efficient compressor and engine design with applications including waste water treatment, industrial air and automotive superchargers.


Simon Hombersley, Lontra Business Development Director, said:

“Midven’s investment will help the company drive forward its commercial and technical development. We’re moving to the West Midlands to benefit from the skills of the engineering base in the region and we look forward to joining forces with other clean tech businesses in the region. We will be recruiting new engineering and other staff throughout 2010.”


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