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Low Carbon Innovation Fund starts second funding round

Electric car

A company that has developed software to help electric vehicles complete more journeys between charges is first to receive funding from the University of East Anglia (UEA) Low Carbon Innovation Fund’s second investment cycle.

The cash will enable Cambridge-based Spark EV Technology to expand their team and accelerate sales. Their technology is aimed at making commercial electric vehicles more efficient and eliminating the “range anxiety” typical of many electric car drivers, who travel shorter distances per charge than they could to avoid running out of power.

The Low Carbon Innovation Fund (LCIF) is part of the Adapt Low Carbon Group and was established in 2010 specifically to invest in small to medium-sized local companies whose products or services reduce carbon emissions. Its first cycle of funding saw £20.5 million, alongside £49 million from other investors, invested into more than 40 businesses, which will see a saving of more than 10 million tonnes of carbon by 2020. 

Spark uses machine learning to help electric vehicle drivers go further between charges using live data from vehicle, driver and atmospherics. The real-time information on factors such as weather conditions, traffic, tyre wear and even driver characteristics provides an accurate prediction of energy required to complete each journey.           

This data can extend the vehicle’s range by an average of 20 per cent between charges, making fleets more efficient and profitable and helping companies with mobile workforces, such as delivery, utility or taxi firms, provide better customer service and more targeted driver training. 

Justin Ott, CEO of Spark Technology, said: “Investment from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund will allow us to grow our technology into a world-leading software product for commercial fleet managers looking to go electric.

“Companies around the world are modernising their fleets right now and are looking at the potential of electric vehicles. Spark Technology gives fleet managers reassurance that vehicles will complete journeys while providing vital data on how vehicles and their drivers perform in different conditions.  More electric vehicles on the roads means fewer carbon emissions, leading to better air quality for all.” 

Adapt CEO Prof John French added: “LCIF was set up with the specific purpose of enabling companies with sustainability at their heart to thrive. Now we’re building on the success of our first round by investing in more businesses that offer us a sustainable future. With 300,000 people prematurely killed by poor air quality across the EU each year, Spark is exactly the kind of company we’re looking to invest in as they are helping to offer a compelling alternative to diesel and petrol.”