NPIF Equity

Inventor gains backing for new off-grid heating systems

A Yorkshire inventor, who is developing a range of water heating products for off-grid energy markets, has secured a £400,000 investment from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.

Max Smith has joined forces with his brother Guy and former colleague Chris Blaxall to launch Hydrotherm, which aims to bring his technology to market. The three men were the team behind Carlton Manufacturing, the Goldthorpe based company which supplies eco-friendly building products and which they sold to Grafton plc in 2015. Max and Guy also previously established Nanoflam, a Queens Award for Enterprise business, which they sold in 2010.

Under its Hydrotherm range, the company aims to develop an innovative lithium-ion powered portable water heater initially for camping and leisure activities, but also for use by lone workers where immediate hot water is required for showering or washing tools. In addition, it is developing a range of stainless steel handmade rocket stoves and related camping stove accessories under its Rocketman brand.

The company is based at Escrick Business Park in York, and the funding will allow the business to begin recruitment and continue with developing its products while assessing market demand.

David Best, Investment Director at Mercia Fund Managers, said: “The Hydrotherm team are serial entrepreneurs with a track record for successfully building and selling companies and bringing new products to market. The off-grid, camping and outdoor markets are growing, and we are backing Max and the team to take advantage of the connected products and market opportunities around this niche sector.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at British Business Bank, said: “It is great to see that NPIF is backing repeat entrepreneurs in the North. Providing funding for companies like Hydrotherm to develop their products is a great way of fuelling economic growth and so the British Business Bank will continue to work closely with our fund managers and partner LEPs to ensure the right finance is available for these businesses.”

David Dickson, Chair of the Infrastructure Board for the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, said: “Hydrotherm is a great example of the pioneering manufacturers which are starting and growing in the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding region. To help these businesses to grow, it is crucial that inventors have access to the funding they need in order to bring exciting new technologies to market and it’s excellent to see that, having invested in the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, the LEP is able to provide the support these pioneers need to grow.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.