Gaussion, a UCL spinout that has developed new technology to allow ultrafast and safe battery charging, has raised £2.85m in a seed investment round led by BGF and UCL Technology Fund (UCLTF).
Dr John Miles, Chair of Gaussion, who has been engaged for more than a decade in the UK’s campaign to develop EV charging infrastructure said: “The electrification of transport will be a big part of society’s journey towards a low carbon economy. That journey must be accomplished without delay, so it is imperative that we identify and remove the biggest barriers to EV adoption as quickly as possible. Range anxiety and long charging times are at the top of the list for attention and Gaussion’s new fast-charge technology promises to remove them”
Shortening battery charging times is important not only for EVs but also for phones, power tools, drones, and other applications. Although lithium-ion batteries were developed in the 1980s, the damage inflicted by repeated fast-charging has remained a thorn in the side as these products have moved into the mainstream. No cost-effective solution yet exists which prevents the irreversible damage associated with rapid charging.
As the number of EVs on the road increases beyond the early adopters and the premium market, slow charging at home or in car parks becomes a less acceptable solution for mass market scenarios. Current rapid chargers can shorten charging times to well under an hour but, even at this level, repeated use is prevented in order to limit battery degradation and protect battery warranties. Further reducing the charge-time to the order of 10 minutes is not going to happen unless a game-changing technology appears.
Dr Thomas Heenan, co-founder and CEO of Gaussion, said: “Gaussion’s vision is to bring affordable rapid charging to the mass market by allowing the average EV to achieve a week’s worth of driving in a sub-10-minute charge. Our commercially viable technology represents a novel, cost-effective, rapid charging solution for both today’s batteries, and future battery technologies.”
The patent-pending rapid charging technology is primed to disrupt the global EV market by unlocking maximum power for re-charging while minimising degradation within the EV battery. The technology is agnostic to battery chemistry, promising a continued wide range of applications as improved battery technologies come to market.
Dr Chun Tan, co-founder and COO of Gaussion, added: “We’ve built a world-leading team that is now working to commercialise this innovation as rapidly as possible. We will leverage this investment to establish a state-of-the-art R&D facility in central London, to allow future growth and innovation.”
Gausson’s technology can unlock truly ‘rapid’ charging on existing commercially-available battery cells. The team has taken commercial cells designed to charge in one to five hours and demonstrated 1,000+ cycles of consecutive 10-minute charging while still meeting all warranty specifications.
Gaussion was first conceived by Dr Heenan and Dr Tan back in 2017 at the UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab. Inspired by their earlier work using particle accelerators to analyse energy materials such as batteries and fuel cells, they saw an opportunity to apply similar technologies to tackle commercial challenges.
Prof Paul Shearing, co-Director of the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL and co-founder of Gaussion, said: “New chemistries, materials and other solutions are continually being proposed, resulting in an everchanging global battery landscape. So, agnostic technical solutions such as this are hugely important to futureproof potential market changes. Gaussion’s technology has consistently passed high technical hurdles and offers something truly unique.”
High market demand is being driven by the need to provide over £100bn of charging infrastructure by 2035 in Europe alone. With looming Net Zero targets, it is an area of strategic importance for governments and vehicle manufacturers alike.
UCL’s commercialisation company, UCL Business (UCLB) provided initial support to file a patent for the technology. The concepts were then tested for commercial viability through a Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowship, with funds that supported scale-up validation across various applications.
The founders then won the Autocar Drivers of Change award and the Royal Society of Chemistry Emerging Technologies Prize in the Energy category, which provided funding that catalysed the formal spin-out of Gaussion in early 2022 to commercialise the technology. The Innovate UK EDGE team in UCL Innovation & Enterprise supported the spin-out process though company valuation, competitor due diligence, IP landscaping and grant applications.
Dennis Atkinson, investor at BGF, said: “We are extremely excited by the opportunity to invest in a business that has developed an impressive and elegant solution to one of the most pressing issues in the EV battery space. Gaussion is a fantastic example of a highly innovative tech business that has the potential to significantly improve the take up of EVs on a global scale.”
David Grimm, Investment Director, UCLTF said: “Gaussion has the potential to be a truly disruptive global company that pushes the world to a more mobile and sustainable future. We have been highly impressed with the progresses the team have achieved in a short space of time, and look forward to supporting them alongside BGF.”
Mark Harding, Senior Business Manager, UCLB Said: “UCLB recognised the importance of the technology and was keen to work with the inventors to protect it. We are excited to see how Gaussion will deploy the technology to accelerate battery charging and adoption of electric vehicles.”
 The Faraday Institution (the UK’s flagship battery research programme, a 20 University, 50 business consortium) Entrepreneurial Fellowship in 2020 for ‘technology to potentially increase EV range without negatively affecting battery lifetime’.
 Awards include:
- Autocar ‘Drivers of Change’ Technology award 2021, for magnetic enhanced fast charging.
- Royal Society of Chemistry ‘Emerging Technologies in Energy & Environment’ winner 2021.
- Institute of Chemical Engineers 2022 Global Awards – Dr Heenan, Young Researcher Award.
Autocar, Haymarket Media Group
BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested over £3bn in more than 500 companies, making it one of the most active growth capital investors in the UK and Ireland. BGF invests in growing businesses through its network of 15 offices and driving investments in the field of climate and sustainability is a key area of focus, with nearly £300m invested in this space to date. BGF models have now been set up in Canada and Australia, with other countries evaluating the opportunity to replicate this.
www.bgf.co.uk / @BGFinvestments
About UCL Technology Fund
UCL Technology Fund (UCLTF) is dedicated to investing in intellectual property commercialisation opportunities arising from UCL’s world-class research base, focusing in particular on the physical and life sciences. The Fund helps UCL academics achieve the full potential of innovations that have prospects for outstanding societal and market impact, right through the development journey from initial proof of concept to practical commercial application. The Fund is managed by AlbionVC, one of the largest independent venture capital investors in the UK, in collaboration with UCL Business, UCL’s commercialisation company.
For further information please visit: www.ucltf.co.uk
About UCL – London’s Global University
UCL is a diverse global community of world-class academics, students, industry links, external partners, and alumni. Our powerful collective of individuals and institutions work together to explore new possibilities. Since 1826, we have championed independent thought by attracting and nurturing the world’s best minds. Our community of more than 50,000 students from 150 countries and over 16,000 staff pursues academic excellence, breaks boundaries and makes a positive impact on real world problems. We are consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the world and are one of only a handful of institutions rated as having the strongest academic reputation and the broadest research impact. We have a progressive and integrated approach to our teaching and research – championing innovation, creativity and cross-disciplinary working. We teach our students how to think, not what to think, and see them as partners, collaborators and contributors. For almost 200 years, we are proud to have opened higher education to students from a wide range of backgrounds and to change the way we create and share knowledge. We were the first in England to welcome women to university education and that courageous attitude and disruptive spirit is still alive today. We are UCL. Through the Innovate UK EDGE team, UCL assists high-growth businesses including innovative startups and research and development (R&D) intensive spinouts wanting to scale up and grow internationally. The team provides specialist support for innovation and growth support; helping companies to exploit innovation, to source funding and to enter new markets.
About UCL’s Electrochemical Innovation Lab
The Electrochemical Innovation Lab, within the Chemical Engineering Department at UCL, is one of Europe’s largest university research labs in electrochemical technology. With facilities spanning atomic-scale analysis to commercial-scale development, it has an international network of collaborators spanning academia, industry and the public sector.
About UCL Business Ltd (UCLB)
UCL Business Ltd (UCLB), is a wholly owned subsidiary of UCL (University College London). Working with UCL’s world-renowned faculties and associated hospitals, it brings together exceptional ideas, innovations and industry to benefit society and the economy.
Celebrating its landmark 30th anniversary in 2023, UCLB’s track record of success includes over £1.5bn raised in investment for UCL spinouts, and Portico Ventures that enables the next wave of technology-based businesses to thrive in a fast-moving ecosystem. Its fund offerings – UCL Technology Fund and Social Ventures fund – help to bring pioneering technologies from the laboratory to market, enabling academic entrepreneurs to tackle global challenges, from energy and engineering to healthcare and the environment.