A ‘self-supercharging’ single-cylinder engine designed by a Lancaster-based company has won a £40,000 prize in a national competition to find the UK’s next big business idea in low-carbon dioxide technology and innovation.
Earlier this week Oaktec Hybrids was crowned national winner of the Shell Springboard programme, which each year awards cash injections to help innovative companies scale up their products and services. This year, a total of £330,000 was given to nine businesses.
Oaktec was a regional finalist in the competition in 2013, but beat 110 rival bids to scoop the major prize this time around by proving its technology in a working prototype.
Development of the winning innovation, a 400cc engine that can be configured to run on a variety of fuel types, is spearheaded by Oaktec senior partner Paul Andrews.
Although the technology that underpins the system is largely confidential, Andrew believes it has the ability to be produced “in tens of millions” of units in a wide variety of applications and sectors, with its potential in the automotive sector in its current form likely to come from acting as a generator in a simple, low-cost, lightweight range-extender electric vehicle.
Andrews said: “We’re delighted to be this year’s national winners of Shell Springboard. Ours is the world’s first dedicated small gas engine and there are potential applications for our highly efficient, low-emissions technology in every country, every city and every community around the globe. This award and the support from Shell will open up huge opportunities for us to scale up the technology and unleash its full potential.”