Whiskerstay Ltd is based in Falmouth and was set up three years ago by Dr Rachel Nicholls-Lee, who has a background in naval architecture and marine renewables. She is currently one of the leading experts in electric vessel design working in the South West.
Rachel explains: “There is huge interest in the marine sector for electric and hybrid propulsion systems that can deliver good performance whilst also being quiet and environmentally friendly. However, to date the pace of development in the marine industry has been fairly slow.
“Many of the electric and hybrid vessels currently in the market have relatively low performance. Our focus has been to create a new way of designing these vessels and propulsion systems that will solve some of the problems associated with the existing technology.
“We have devised a new propulsion solution which would have wide applications for both commercial and leisure marine vehicles, with the potential to reach a massive worldwide market. Not only will our system deliver the best performance of any marine electric propulsion system, it will also be designed to provide the ‘greenest and cleanest’ solution in the marketplace.
“As you can imagine, the commercial opportunity for such a solution would be immense.”
Whiskerstay had developed a detailed five-year plan on how they would design and test their new solution and prepare it for commercialisation. However, they needed funding support to purchase the computer equipment necessary for carrying out vital system design and simulation work. At this point, they engaged with the Marine-i team and successfully applied for a Rapid Innovation Grant.
Rachel says: “I originally moved to Cornwall six years ago and was immediately impressed with the strength of the marine supply chain in the county. I have continued to make some brilliant contacts, for example at the event on Smart Batteries and Hybrid Propulsion which Marine-I ran in Falmouth this year.
“What is great about the Marine-i team is that they really understand the specific challenges facing new companies like ours and we all speak the same language. The Rapid Innovation Grant application process was very straightforward and they were able to give me a quick decision. Outstanding!
“There are superb marine facilities here in Cornwall, with all that we need to build and test our new technology. Getting the full support of the expert team at Marine-I, together with this crucial grant funding, has provided the perfect kick-start to this exciting project.”
Matt Hodson, Marine Hub Operations Director at Cornwall Development Company, says: “Whiskerstay have come up with a ground-breaking new idea that could open up massive opportunities for local marine tech companies and put Cornwall at the forefront of a new wave of marine propulsion systems. I would urge other companies in Cornwall, big and small, to get in touch with our team to see how we could assist them. If, like Whiskerstay, you have a great new idea but have some barriers to overcome to bring it to market, our team will do all they can to help you make that idea a reality.”