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The University of Southampton

Sustainable energy engineer awarded Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship

Published: 4 December 2019
Dr Phil Wu
Dr Phil Wu is based in the Energy and Climate Change research group

Entrepreneurial engineer Dr Phil Wu will launch innovative software that optimises the location of solar energy systems through a prestigious Enterprise Fellowship at the University of Southampton.

The Sustainable Energy Group Fellow’s ground-breaking research produces highly detailed 3D models of entire cities in a virtual environment to maximise the efficiency of urban solar installations.

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Enterprise Fellowship will provide £60,000 equity-free funding, a tailored training programme and a mentoring to commercialise the technology into a global business.

Over 20 percent of buildings in the UK have the potential to benefit from the Southampton software, opening up a market of developers, architects, urban planners, housing associations and individual households worth an estimated £28 billion.

Phil’s business, called AB Solar, uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and high-resolution Raster Data collected by remote-sensing technologies to produce models of cities, buildings, the construction environment and trees in a virtual environment. It then accurately simulates solar radiation on building surfaces, accounting for factors such as the amount of shadow each spot is covered by at different times of the year.

Several local authorities are already using the technology to improve the efficiency of their installations.

Phil said: "I’m really excited to receive this Enterprise Fellowship, where my research can be hatched into a tangible contribution to help our society become greener and more sustainable. I am really grateful for the support of my research group in Energy and Climate Change and the University’s on-campus accelerator, Future Worlds."

Phil joins previous successful RAEng Enterprise Fellowship recipients from the University of Southampton including Dr Angus Webb, founder of Dynamon, Dr Joshua Steer, founder of Radii Devices, and Dr Yunjia Li, founder of Synote.

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, Dean of Faculty, Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “The continued success of University of Southampton applicants to the Academy’s prestigious Fellowship scheme provides further acknowledgement of our key position as a hub for UK innovation. World-class research and development here at Southampton drives economic growth and delivers positive benefits to society and our environment. Congratulations to Dr Wu on this remarkable achievement.”

Over the course of the fellowship Phil’s new company will be based in the Future Worlds accelerator on Highfield Campus, where it will join a growing pipeline of University startups and spinouts.

Ben Clark, Future Worlds Director, said: "Phil’s technology has the potential to contribute to building a greener society, which is so immensely valuable in the context of all we know about the climate emergency and embodies Future Worlds’ vision of helping university entrepreneurs to change the world with their ideas. It’s a pleasure to support Phil on his journey and this award will help to accelerate his already remarkable progress."

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