Oxford spin-out to use phase change materials for smart glazing, displays
Peiman Hosseini and Harish Bhaskaran
The discovery by researchers at the University of Oxford that it is possible to use extremely thin, flexible, transparent layers of a new smart material to create low-energy high-resolution displays and glazing, is to be commercialised by spin-out company, Bodle Technologies.
Oxford Sciences Innovation, the £320m investment company established to provide capital and scaling expertise to Oxford spin-outs, is the lead investor in the new company. Other investors include the University of Oxford Isis Fund II, managed by Parkwalk Advisors and the Oxford Technology and Innovations EIS Fund led by George Robinson. Dr David Fyfe, former CEO of Cambridge Display Technologies and currently Executive Chairman of Oxford PV will join as Executive Chairman.
The invention, by a team led by Professor Harish Bhaskaran and his postdoctoral researcher Peiman Hosseini at the University’s Department of Materials, attracted attention from both industry and investors following the publication of a paper in Nature in 2014.
Professor Bhaskaran said: “This new approach allows us to create materials which can not only manipulate light very cleverly, but are also very cost-effective. We will be creating smart glazing which allows only certain wavelengths of light into a building, giving instant control over both the heat and light being transmitted, and over the appearance of the glass. We will also be working on other applications for these thin film materials including novel reflective displays and security markings.
“This technology is capable of providing vivid colour displays which appear similar to paper, yet with very high resolution. It is also capable of rendering extremely high-resolution videos that can be seen in bright sunlight.”
The University’s commercialisation company Isis Innovation supported the team by filing patents, building the business plan and marketing the opportunity.
Isis Innovation managing director Linda Naylor said: “This is a great example of the Oxford innovation ecosystem at work, strengthened now by Oxford Sciences Innovation as a key investor in the community.”
Hosseini – also a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub member – will join Bodle as Chief Technology Officer. The technology has already received backing from Oxford’s University Challenge Seed Fund to finance the initial prototyping work and market analysis.
The research was funded by grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Isis Innovation Ltd
About Isis Innovation
Isis Innovation is the research and technology commercialisation company of the University of Oxford. We provide access to technology from Oxford researchers through intellectual property licensing, spin-out company formation and material sales, and to academic expertise through Oxford University Consulting.
Isis is the highest university patent filer in the UK and is ranked 1st in the UK for university spin-outs, having created over 110 new companies in 25 years. In the last financial year we completed 529 licenses and consulting agreements. Isis Enterprise, our innovation management consultancy, works with university, government and industrial clients from offices around the world.
Isis was named ‘Technology Transfer Unit of the Year 2014’ by Global University Venturing and in 2015 Isis Enterprise was awarded a Queens Award for Enterprise (International Trade).
About the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub
The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Enterprise Hub is a national resource for the UK’s most promising engineering entrepreneurs. The Hub forms part of the Academy’s commitment to stimulate excellence and promote creativity and innovation in engineering. The Hub does this by making awards to exemplars of excellence and innovation in engineering who will be the founders and leaders of tomorrow’s high-tech companies. The awards include provision of money-can’t-buy bespoke support and one-to-one mentoring from its Fellowship, which comprises many of the country’s most successful engineers from across academia and industry, including prominent entrepreneurs and business leaders such as Mike Lynch OBE FREng, Sir Robin Saxby FREng, Anne Glover CBE HonFREng and Ian Shott CBE FREng.
The Enterprise Hub also contributes to the development of policy and public affairs activities focused on improving the climate for engineering entrepreneurs and growth of technology companies in the UK.
Hub activities have expanded considerably over the past years and further substantial growth is projected. This necessitates dedicated space at the Academy and a redevelopment of the Lower Ground Floor of Prince Philip House is now underway to provide a physical home for the Hub.
Further information can be found here: www.enterprisehub.raeng.org.uk