Innovation funding helps Green Mole bring new electric vehicle charging solution to market
With support from the Hub, energy efficiency experts Green Mole have developed a solution which could revolutionise home EV charging and are expecting to increase sales by £100k over 2022.
By 2030, no new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be on sale in the UK, as part of a push towards a zero carbon economy; instead, electric and hybrid vehicles will have taken over.
To support this change the UK needs a robust, easily accessible charging infrastructure, says Lisa Furlong, director of energy efficiency specialists Green Mole, and that means being able to charge vehicles from the convenience of your home own.
Convenient home charging
However, at the moment, she explains, just 57% of people have access to off-street parking, which makes charging an EV more awkward and ownership less attractive. Instead, they have to rely on public charging stations, such as bays on public roads and in car parks, or trail a charging cable from their house across the pavement, which can be a potential trip hazard.
Not only is home charging more convenient but it also allows people to choose their own tariffs, with Green Mole’s research showing it can be as much as five times more expensive using a third-party facility. It’s a way of future proofing your home, says Lisa, while freeing up more public charging points.
“People want the convenience of being able to charge from their own home,” she explains. “There simply isn’t enough on-street charging for people who live in flats or don’t have a house with a driveway.”
To solve the problem, Green Mole developed their own EV charging technology, the Electric Vehicle Charging Channel (EVCC), which uses a simple but strong covered channel cut into the pavement, to take the charging lead from the house to the kerbside.
A demonstration model was installed at the University of Salford, which Green Mole had worked with before on several other projects. To help take the product to market, Lisa tapped into an on-going collaboration with the Business Green Hub and began working with Innovation advisor Karen Dudley.
“The next step was to develop a strong commercialisation strategy,” explains Karen, “and together we developed a project brief covering the type of R&D support the business needed, which we sent out to all our University partners.”
Disrupting the market
Lisa decided to continue working with the University of Salford, and to help the partnership develop met another member of the Hub team, Innovation Development Manager, Claire Cornes.
“Being embedded in the University, Claire has a fantastic knowledge and understanding of the different departments and faculties and was able to facilitate the collaboration and help us find the expertise we needed,” explains Lisa.
As a result, Green Mole began working with Studio Salford, the University’s creative hub. Karen then worked with the business on a successful application for an Innovation Voucher, which funded work on a new brand identity for the charger, as well as creating a new digital presence and video tailored to their target market.
Innovation Vouchers are available to SMEs across Greater Manchester and can be used to access the expertise a business needs to innovate and grow.
“The funding and support from the Hub gave us the impetus we needed to really kick start our marketing campaign,” says Lisa.
“It was great to be able to partner with organisations that already have such a great track record of working with industry, not just from the practical side but because it also added to the product’s credibility.”
Securing the first contracts and paving the way to growth
The EVCC was officially launched in October 2021 and has been installed by both a Welsh and an English county council.
“We are now getting daily enquiries and there’s a clear demand from local authorities, who are still working out their EV strategies” adds Lisa. “We’re confident that things are really going to grow from here, especially as people become more aware of EVs and the push towards a low carbon economy.”
Looking ahead, Green Mole is expecting to increase sales by £100k over 2022 and is on the path to recruit up to an additional four roles over the next 12 months.