If a car fanatic can be sure that electrification is the future, it must be true.
That was the thought, mid-2010s, that drove Dr. Ian Campbell to a battery engineering PhD program at Imperial College London.
“Electrification absolutely has to be the way forward, for our health, for air pollution and for climate change,” Campbell says. “Despite coming from this personal background in petrol-based motorsport, I was absolutely certain it would happen.”
Campbell started the program with the intention to meet co-founders and do research that could have a commercial impact. Six years later, he has his co-founders, Dr. Yan Zhao, CTO, and Dr. Greg Offer, co-founder and advisor, and he leads the company, Breathe Battery Technologies.
The team just graduated from Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)’s Climate stream at HEC Paris. CDL saw Breathe through a number of milestones: the company just celebrated its second birthday and secured its first sales contract.
Breathe is developing a new class of battery management software with applications in the automotive and consumer electronic markets.
“One of the biggest bottlenecks on electrification of transport today is the battery pack. Firstly, its cost. Secondly, its performance and its safety,” Campbell, the company’s CEO, says.
“The software that we develop for battery management systems helps to improve battery performance and overall helps to lower the cost of the batteries that are being developed today. In that way, as a company, we’re helping to accelerate the electrification of transport and offset or reduce those emissions that are coming from transport around the world.”
Campbell credits the advice they received at CDL for helping secure that first sales contract.
“It’s a very high density of information and learning in a very short time period,” he says.
CDL’s mentors helped Breathe make fast, informed decisions about how to scale up as a company, how to take their technology to market and how to focus their energy as a small team.
Breathe’s smart decision-making seemed to create a positive feedback loop with the mentors. Thomas Åstebro, the program’s academic lead at CDL-Paris, says, “Everything they touch, it seems to be working.”
Campbell’s advice to other founders who are considering CDL is simple: “Do it. Don’t think twice.”
Breathe is now scaling up with its first contract in smartphones. Campbell says the next step is to win a major automotive contract.
The company is now seeking pilot partners, in both consumer electronics and automotive, to run trials of the software and see firsthand how much it improves battery performance.
“We’ve shown very successfully over the last few years that we can enhance the lifetime of smartphones, of laptops, and simultaneously reduce charging time with the software that we develop,” Campbell says. “So the next big step is to do that on the vehicle level.”
Join a CDL Climate webinar and learn more about how the CDL program can help you build your business.