Growth for Albotherm as they prepare for innovative commercial pilot
Earlier this year Albotherm announced a £1.6 million investment led by Green Angel Ventures and supported by a £500,000 Innovate UK grant.
They were connected with one of their investors through the Oxford Innovation Angel Network and supported through the funding process by the Future Space innovation team.
Now as Albotherm gears up to expand, we caught up with co-founders Molly Allington and Sian Fussell.
“This investment will help us take the business to the next stage”, explains Molly. “Including scaling up, completing commercial pilots, and launching the product for the greenhouse market.”
Albotherm Team at Future Space
Sian and Molly met at the University of Bristol, where they first came up with the idea for their innovative carbon-saving coating for commercial greenhouses.
The coating automatically adjusts how much light it lets through in response to changes in the temperature, providing the potential to enhance food productivity in commercial greenhouses by up to 34 per cent.
“We had developed a prototype and done some research trials with it, which showed positive results – leading to this investment. Now we’re focusing on bringing in the right talent to support our pilots next year” continues Molly.
How partnerships are helping Albotherm grow
While some of their partnerships for these pilots are yet to be announced, Molly was able to confirm that they will be working with both Vitacress, one of Europe’s leading suppliers of fresh produce, and FlavourFresh – a leading commercial glasshouse grower in Britain.
“This will allow us to begin trials in Spring 2024 using spray coatings for the glass of their existing greenhouses. We’ll also be working with Pilkington Glass to create a coating that can be added to the glass at manufacture stage.”
As well as offering an opportunity to prove the value of their product, the partnerships have given Sian and Molly vital feedback that has helped them to focus their commercial messaging on the needs of the customer. Sian explains:
“By talking directly to growers we’re able to understand their needs and what the main attraction of our products are for them. For example, the fact that it lasts for multiple years means they don’t have to keep reapplying it – whereas before we were focusing more on the benefits to crop yield.”
Albotherm in the lab
Building a startup in Bristol
As a team of four, Molly and Sian are excited to be almost doubling in size and working with more interns through the UWE Bristol funded scheme offered at Future Space.
“We’re recruiting for two people to support with product optimisation who will be based in the lab, and an office-based assistant. We have an intern at the moment and we’ll definitely be looking to bring another one in the next round.”
The new lab assistants will be based in lab space that was recently vacated by exmoor pharma, who have successfully grown into an international business and have built their own offices in Bristol.
“Being in a space like this that is flexible works really well for what we need”, says Sian. “[Future Space] has given us the opportunity to grow and access the right equipment and support.
“Plus, we’re based in Bristol, which is a fantastic location for startups. There’s a lot of startup and tech advisors here so you can tap into the right knowledge, and it makes it easier to recruit as people want to come here and stay here.
“Future Space is a really lively hub too, so there are a lot of people to talk to which you need when you’re a small team.”
What does the long-term future hold for Albotherm?
”We’ve been very focused on the greenhouse market for the past two years, but this funding round will also allow us to do some trials in the built environment space.
“In the background we’re also developing new products - the plan is to develop a product line that focuses on cooling without using any energy”, says Molly.
We can’t wait to continue this exciting journey with them.
More Blog Articles
Future Space wins Tech South West Award
Future Space took home the Supporting the Sector Award at this year’s Tech South West Awards in Exeter.
A Welcome from New Centre Director Matt Freeman
Hi, everyone! It’s such an honour to be joining Future Space and helping to lead the centre and its team going forward. I started in the role only a month or so ago, but even in that short space of time I’ve been amazed to hear about what our businesses […]
Perceptual Robotics: from university spin-out to global success
Perceptual Robotics tell us the story of how they grew from a university spin out to an international business with staff across the world.