Cleantech pioneer Yellow Collective a fan of Innovate UK EDGE support

Computer generated image of Yellow Collective fan installed in railway station underground walkway, above commuters

© Yellow Collective

Yellow Collective clarifies its business strategy, prepares its cleantech for commercial launch and improves its investment readiness with Innovate UK EDGE input, witnessing headcount increases en route.

The cleantech start-up in Worthing, West Sussex, has been working with global transportation group Siemens on a revolutionary fan that removes COVID-19 and other viruses, bacteria and pollutants from the air breathed by rail passengers.

As successfully demonstrated with Siemens Mobility, the prototype system features an electric fan and an ultra-violet lightbulb fitted within a honeycomb structure coated with a patent pending semi-conductor chemical.

The photocatalytic technology has also attracted interest from a global hotel chain, a US casino group and from the taxi and hire car sector.

Cleantech on the runway to launch

Christopher Buckland, Yellow Collective’s dedicated innovation and growth specialist from Innovate UK EDGE in the South East, established at the outset where the service could have most impact on business growth.  

Christopher made introductions to stakeholders within the Innovate UK / UKRI network who could add their expertise in speeding technical development and commercialisation. 

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult played an embryonic role in helping to shape the design of the prototype to increase its active surface area, readying it for full-scale production. 

Meanwhile the Connected Places Catapult secured a place for Yellow Collective on the Innovating for Clean Air Programme in India. The aim is to supply a number of fans for both classrooms and playgrounds in heavily polluted Bangalore.

Christopher said: “A Design Thinking session then influenced the launch strategy for the fan, provoking thoughts on how to brand it and position it with target audiences.” 

Business strategy and Siemens deal

When Yellow Collective's CEO and co-founder Mark Cusack entered negotiations with Siemens, Christopher also provided valuable feedback on issues such as licensing and terms and conditions. 

Mark said: “Chris at Innovate UK EDGE has been brilliant, not just as a non-interested party, a sounding board, but also for his knowledge of funding sources. And I still refer to the sheets from our early strategic growth workshop to guide my decision making.”

The deal with Siemens Mobility, struck in the second half of 2020, propelled Yellow Collective into revenue earning territory for the first time.

Four more jobs were created in 2020 and more are likely to follow in 2021 as Yellow Collective follows up interest from the US after a virtual presentation to the Contagion Conference in New York. 

Christopher added: “Improvements to its pitch deck will help the company to prepare for investment rounds in 2021.”

Repairing dirty air in different settings

Until Covid-19 appeared, the most likely target market for the technology was in air quality improvement and CO2 reduction.

As air is blown through the UV-lit honeycomb, an aggressive oxidising process renders a significant proportion of CO2 environmentally benign, while also clearing the air of pathogens and pollutants.

The system is compact, easy to install and economical to operate, with no harmful by-products. 

It can be scaled in size to accommodate larger and smaller environments, from private vehicles, buses, transport hubs and work spaces to homes, retail and community centres and even outdoor spaces.

Mark added: “We can't keep ignoring the air pollution crises we are facing. Internal air quality is a problem that is already impacting our health. The pandemic has only just highlighted the already urgent need to start thinking about the air we breathe and its impact on our wellbeing and the economy. Yellow Collective technology is a really exciting solution to repairing our dirty air.”

Chris at Innovate UK EDGE has been brilliant, not just as a non-interested party, a sounding board, but also for his knowledge of funding sources."

Mark Cusack, CEO and co-founder, Yellow Collective