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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.
Lontra has added four new staff, as the clean-tech start up expands to fulfil customer projects.
Senior Design Engineer Nigel Moseley strengthens the engineering team, joining from Gardner Denver, where he was Design Project Manager within long established Bellis and Morcom. He has a long track record in designing and developing large industrial compressors, and joins Lontra to lead work on water industry compressors. He had previously created the R&D team at Hoebinger Rings and Packings, and worked at Peter Brotherhood on industrial air compressors. Design Engineer Emily McNee joins from Assystem UK, where she worked on designs for gas turbines for industrial and aerospace customers, following her Mechnical Engineering degree at Bath University.
David Stirling has joined the company has Finance Director and Company Secretary. David is also Finance Director of fast growing start-up eSpares. He has developed a series of technology companies in his career, securing £21m investment in Aim listed telecoms provider Brightview plc before selling the business in 2007. He was previously FD of digital printing company Lontec Group and FD of AIM listed Surgical Innovations Group plc. He started his career at Coopers & Lybrand. He works with experienced Management Accountant/General Administrator Christine Hassall, who runs the office day to day following similar roles in industrial and technology companies.
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.”
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”.
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.