MIT grant important for young companies that wish to be innovative
At Next Level Electronics, they love being innovative. Currently, they are working hard, for example, on the development of a reliable and high-quality electric PCB motor. Subsidiefocus applied for the MIT grant in connection with the feasibility study, which was very important for NLE. “Prototypes come at a very high price.”
Next Level Electronics
The group technical engineers knew each other from their participation in the World Solar Challenge 2013 and 2015, the biennial series of solar-powered car races through the Australian Outback. For this Australian adventure, they developed a motor controller which was more reliable and less sensitive to interference than the types existing at the time. In 2016, they decided to meet again. They were eager to explore, learn and innovate more. They started a `fun project´ to keep them occupied on Monday evenings, and occasionally a Saturday. By now, their hobby has become serious business. In 2017, Next Level Electronics (NLE) was established. Today, 15 engineers work at NLE, among other things to further develop the motor controller and since 2020, they have also been working on the PCB motor. Nowadays they work from Monday till Friday from 9 till 5. And still the occasional Saturday...
“By now, we have developed a basic design for the electric motor,” says Bas Groenen, electrical engineer at NLE and involved from the beginning. “The ultimate goal is to develop an electric motor for private vehicles, however, we are also exploring other applications. Think for example electric bikes, golf carts and forklifts. But the bigger the electric motor’s power, the higher the start-up costs. And the safety risks increase too. This is why we focus on lighter vehicles.”
Grant for feasibility study
In the past year, NLE carried out a feasibility study, with the objective of examining whether the electric PCB motor could be scaled up from a cost point of view and in terms of power. This research was carried out with the support of the SME Innovation stimulation programme for Top sectors (MIT). Bas tells: “We applied for this grant before. Last year, we received this grant for the third time. For us, this is extremely important. We are a young business. Producing prototypes is very costly. If we do not receive grants, we would have to find other ways of financing. And that costs a lot of time.”
Cooperation forces to think
Joost Janssen and Lee Samuels from Subsidiefocus submitted an application for the MIT scheme for NLE. And apart from the fact that the subsidy was granted for every application, both parties enjoy their working relationship. “We regularly meet to discuss our plans for the near future. During those discussions, we receive loads of questions, which is very useful. We are a group of techies. Those questions force us to broaden our views, for example, to think about what exactly is needed in the markets. More than once, this has resulted in a different approach to a project, in order to be able to serve a broader market.”
It is impossible to predict what the prospects for the electric PCB motors will be. We expect the results of the feasibility study soon. On the basis of this outcome, the NLE engineers will decide how to proceed. Will they scale up and aim at private vehicles or will they continue to focus on lighter means of transportation? Bas: “The current generation of electric bicycle motors break down pretty often. As we come from an automotive background, we have more experience with regard to environmental influences and we are able to make a more reliable product. The market offers very interesting opportunities, in this respect.” Entering the market will have to wait, however. At NLE, they think they will need at least another year for additional research. And who knows, that might well be carried out again supported by the MIT grant. As a matter of fact, at Subsidiefocus, they have thought already about the possibilities.
Do you wish to know more?
Do you want to know more about the grant options for your project? Then please contact Joost Janssen, innovation manager, by calling 073-6465338 or send Joost an e-mail.