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The University of Southampton

Senior appointment at University technology spin-out Perpetuum

Published: 8 December 2004

University of Southampton spin-out company Perpetuum Ltd has appointed technology business specialist Roy Freeland as its Chief Executive Officer.

The company, which has been founded by academics at the University's world-class School of Electronics and Computer Science, harvests kinetic energy from the environment and puts it to use in a range of innovative ways.

"This is very exciting technology," said Roy Freeland. "Everyone I have spoken to is enthusiastic about its possibilities. It is environmentally friendly and has many applications in so many areas."

Roy has more than 20 years experience at senior level for leading companies in the international automotive, defence and aerospace markets. He has also recently been mentoring young companies at the University's Chilworth Science Park.

Using cutting edge technologies, Perpetuum researchers have developed small, inexpensive wireless sensor systems with RF data transmission. The patented vibration harvesting microgenerator produces sufficient energy from relatively low levels of vibration to power the systems so they require no external power supplies or batteries.

Among many potential applications, these could be used to monitor stress and find dangerous fractures by being embedded in structures such as bridges and aircraft, or monitor the health of rotating parts and moving vehicles. Future planned developments could lead to an everlasting heart pacemaker.

Sensors in use at present are limited by the need for a power supply or batteries, but Perpetuum's version will capture its own energy from the environment. For example, a sensor on a railway track could reduce rail accidents by using vibration energy harvested from passing trains to report faults in the track or rolling stock over the mobile phone network.

Work is underway to miniaturise the device to the size of a 5p coin.

The company was formed by Professor Neil White together with University ECS colleagues Steve Beeby, Nick Harris and John Tudor. Professor White said: "The technology to power microsystems from the environment will have wide ranging applications across many industries, where it will help to reduce maintenance and pollution from discarded batteries."

Perpetuum has already received funding from specialist financiers IP2IPO and Sulis.

Over the last three years, ten companies have spun-out from the University, across many technologies. Many have already achieved second-round funding and two have floated on London's Alternative Investment Market.

Notes for editors

  1. The Centre for Enterprise and Innovation is the highly successful centre for enterprise and innovation at the University of Southampton.  Focusing on the protection and exploitation of the University's intellectual property, it has helped to create over 10 spin out companies since October 2001.  Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping plc, created in June 2002 and floated on AIM in March 2004 with a valuation of around £50 million. Asthma research specialist Synairgen followed in October 2004 with an AIM valuation of £28 million. The CEI also encourages enterprise within the University by supporting academic consultancy, propagating student businesses through the entrepreneurs' club, Fish on Toast, and aiding business to university interaction through their University2Business model.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has around 20,000 students and 5,000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £270 million.
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