In Business growth and finance, Innovation

The North East has reached an exciting point when it comes to innovation. There is a cluster of companies, big and small, helping to position our region as a leader in the field of low carbon vehicles and clean technologies and this is somewhere that is making a real difference to industry.

Hyperdrive Innovation is based at the Future Technology Centre in Sunderland and for the past three years we have been developing electric vehicle and energy storage systems, including advances in battery packs and Li-ion battery management.

In simple terms, we provide companies with high specification batteries for use in electric and hybrid transport, industrial robots, off grid and portable energy storage.

Our ethos is to develop and manufacture new technology solutions that not only improve products but also help get them to market. It’s about approaching things differently and lowering costs of leading-edge technology. People come to us because they can’t find an off-the-shelf item; what we provide is designed around a specific need.

We’re currently working with an organisation to improve performance, availability and running times for a fleet of warehouse robots. We’ve been able to design a bespoke power system that achieves their unique requirements and this has given them a competitive advantage.

One of the most exciting developments at Hyperdrive Innovation is our new battery factory, which opened earlier this year. Previously we focused on engineering and developing new products, making them in prototype numbers but we now have the capability to fulfill orders for up to 10,000 units per year.

This provides us with an opportunity to use our technology to create products that are designed, developed and manufactured here in the North East. It also means we can look to expand the business and we are introducing a standard range so customers can benefit from economies of scale.

There is a lot of talent in the region and we work closely with Newcastle University on placement opportunities, which have resulted in full time employment. The Future Technology Centre is an impressive facility and the infrastructure is developing in the right way to drive the sector forward.

What I’d like to see is more collaboration between companies based in the region. The North East Automotive Alliance has recently been set up to provide a platform to share knowledge and best practice. We need to get people working together across sectors and ensure big businesses work with small businesses to develop new products and capability.

Ongoing technological development is key. If we develop it here in the North East we should strive to make it here too, generating more jobs and growing our economy.

I agree with the North East LEP helping to lead the way by positioning the automotive industry centrally within its innovation programme. The inclusion of automotive ensures a clear vision for the sector that will benefit organisations like Hyperdrive Innovation moving forward.

It’s an exciting time to be working in the innovation sector and we need to be ready to realise every opportunity that comes our way.

Steve Abbott, Business Development Manager at Hyperdrive Innovation

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Gillian Hall, North East LEP board member