McLaren, Sharp, And Ilika Join Forces To Develop Autonomous Energy Harvesting IoT Tech


The Digital Catapult also revealed the winners of the IoT Boost Programme

The Internet of Things is set to become a mix of cross-industry tie-ups as yet another trio of companies enter into a partnership to drive the spread of networks constructed of smart and connected devices.

The latest IoT partnership on the table is the one between electronics giant Sharp, McLaren Applied Technologies, the tech division of the UK performance car maker, and Ilika, a company specialising in solid-state battery tech and materials.

The trio will look to create an autonomous energy harvesting power source through £500,000 funding from the government’s innovation agency Innovate UK.

Some £320,000 of the funding will be used to drive a two-year project to mix Ilika’s Stereax solid-state battery technology with Sharp’s photovoltaic tech which will power McLaren’s wireless sensing platform; effectively a system for handling IoT sensor networks in the automotive and motorsport industries, with the potential for deployment in the healthcare sector and for use with wearable technology.

Internet of Partnerships

acquisition handshake ©Drazen shutterstockThe overall objective of the project and the partnership is to develop a robust sensor system that can be used in challenging environments with a power source that can operate up to 100 degrees Celsius and avoid the need for maintenance, hence the use of solar power technology and Ilika’s thin film solid-state batteries.

“Solid-state batteries are known for their low leakage currents and their ability to retain their performance over thousands of cycles. These properties make Stereax batteries the ideal technology to integrate with Sharp’s high efficiency PV panels. We expect this development programme to create significant commercial opportunities across multiple sectors,” said Graeme Purdy, Ilika CEO, highlighting the role his company has to play in the development of the IoT sensor system.

The three companies are not alone in such IoT partnerships, with IBM recently touting a trio of tie-ups to spread its Watson IoT tech further. And such IoT partnerships have been championed as necessary to drive its evolution from a much-discussed tech trend to a connected reality.

Boosting the IoT

microsoft-iot-hubThe furore around IoT is also set to surge further, as the Digital Catapult has announced the winners of the IoTUK Boost programme, which offered up to five small to medium enterprises the opportunity to gain access to the business, technical and mentoring support from the IoTUK team and the government’s Digital Catapult.

The idea being the programme is to have the participating companies lead the roll out of low power wide area networks (LPWAN) that will be able to support networks of connected devices and sensors as the IoT matures.

AB Open, Advanced Digital Innovation Ltd, Cambridge Wireless, High Tech Bristol and Bath CIC (HBB), Sensor City Liverpool and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Hartree Centre, have all been selected to run LPWAN test beds with the support of the Digital Catapult and IoTUK.

“Due to the strong interest shown so far in this initiative, we have doubled the amount of funding available to give more entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their products. Boost will help to provide local infrastructure and support for promising IoT businesses to innovate and bring exciting new IoT products and services to market,” said Matt Hancock, minister of state for Digital and Culture.

With IoTUK already seeking partners to support London’s LPWAN rollout, the development of such an IoT network is only set to grow.

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