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Support for tech start-ups
Design associate
Chris Thompson

Our understanding of our technology’s market potential, and our ability to communicate this effectively, is greater thanks to the Design Council.

Bob Flint, Commercial Director, Ceres Power

With help from the Design Council, Ceres Power raised £10m worth of private equity ahead of their flotation on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM)

Ambition

Ceres Power had developed a product utilising new chemical technology, which had the potential to replace the traditional domestic boiler. Like many technology start-ups they needed funding to sustain research and product development – this meant not only being able to communicate why their technology was worth backing to potential investors, but also its commercial viability.  Understanding the importance of this task, Flint contacted the Design Council for help.

The process

Ceres Power began working with the Design Council’s Design Associate, Chris Thompson on a process of analysing all aspects of the company – its goals, the marketplace and potential commercial applications of its technology. The findings from this process would inform not just Ceres’ brand communications but also their forward business strategy.

Thompson’s 30 years’ experience specifically within the design technology sector meant he knew the success of Ceres Power’s new product strongly depended not only on clear communications, but on the number of viable routes to market.

Thompson identified two alternative uses for the product:

  • Supplying power for homes and businesses, which lack access to renewable grid power, or providing back-up for vital services such as hospitals or temporary traffic lights
  • Supporting automotive electrical systems, such as truck auxiliary power – where fuel cells can supply power even when the engine is switched off.  Thereby cutting costs and carbon emissions.

With a clear strategy in mind, Ceres’ management team worked with Thompson to identify key messages which would clearly explain the benefits of the technology’s applications – even to non specialists.

The results

A coherent brand and strategy was developed to win the confidence of investors and, as a result, the business struck two key partnerships.  Since then it has refined and developed its technology to develop its first product – an integrated wall-mounted residential fuel cell combined heat and power product which is due to launch this year.

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