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The University of Southampton
Chemistry

Ilika plc: Driving Global Innovation in Next Generation Materials

Research into sustainable technologies at the University of Southampton’s School of Chemistry is helping to transform the automotive and energy industries. University of Southampton spin out company Ilika has established strong links with automotive and original equipment manufacturers, achieving substantial commercial success within the UK economy.

The company uses the ‘clean technologies' of combinatorial chemistry within materials science to create new functional materials with specific and highly desirable properties for use in the next generation of batteries and fuel cell.

Context

Combinatorial chemistry – the rapid synthesis of new molecules or materials – has long been used in drug discovery and catalysis. Research in the School of Chemistry at Southampton has allowed this technique to be applied to solid state materials and polymers, leading to

Research challenge

Following a successful £6m bid to the UK Joint Infrastructure Fund to establish a Combinatorial Centre of Excellence at Southampton in 2000, Professor Brian Hayden and Dr Samuel Guerin developed new combinatorial approaches to solid state materials discovery.

Professor Brian Hayden and Dr Samuel Guerin
Professor Brian Hayden and Dr Samuel Guerin

They designed a high-throughput optical screen that successfully reduced costs and accelerated the screening of libraries of electroactive materials, in particular fuel-cell electrocatalysts and battery materials.

This novel technology provided the base intellectual property for the spin-out in 2004 of Ilika Technologies Ltd.

Advancing green technology for the automotive industry

Ilika has a longstanding collaboration with Toyota to develop materials for low temperature fuel cells, as part of the company’s development of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles for the consumer market. This has positioned Ilika as a leader in the development of chemistries and production methods for both electric hybrid and electric vehicles.

Driving Global Innovation
Driving Global Innovation

Toyota launched its first hydrogen-powered Mirai car to the European and US markets in autumn 2015.

In 2018 Ilika announced that it had been awarded £4m in grant funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge, part of UKRI’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), to participate in two automotive-related projects. The first, with Honda and Ricardo, was focused on the development of rapid charging battery packs. The second, with McLaren and A123 Batteries, was developing battery pack technology for high performance vehicles.

The projects were selected as an ISCF case study on the UK Government website.

A third project was announced in 2019 with Jaguar Land Rover to study manufacturing processes and costs for solid state batteries.

In 2020 Ilika signed a framework agreement with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in support of scale-up of its Goliath solid state cells for electric vehicles, cordless consumer electronics and aeronautics.

Supporting technological innovation in the clean energy, medtech and transport sectors

 

Sustainable technologies
Sustainable technologies

Since 2016, Ilika has secured key development and deployment projects with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for its ‘Stereax’ thin film solid-state microbatteries. The OEMs include Sharp Laboratories of Europe (now Lightricity), Galvani Bioelectronics (a joint venture between GlaxoSmithKline and Verily) and Titan Wind Energy, China – the world’s fourth largest manufacturer of wind turbines.

In 2019 Ilika commenced a trial deployment on the UK rail network of wireless sensors powered by Stereax batteries for measuring track strain at high temperatures.

Benefiting the UK economy and contributing to its global competitiveness

The sustained growth of Ilika Plc has had a direct impact on the UK economy. Annual turnover rose from £1m in 2014 to £2.8m in 2020. At the end of 2020, Ilika Plc had a market capitalisation of £284m – a considerable increase on its original floatation of £18.7m.

With sales offices in the United States, China and Germany, Ilika attracts substantial inward investment into the UK; around 90% of its commercial revenue is generated from companies headquartered overseas. 

Key Publications

List of all staff members in
Staff MemberPrimary Position
Brian E HaydenEmeritus Professor of Chemistry, Chief Scientific Officer of Ilika Technologies
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