Photo: TU/e website.
Breakthrough Energy, a private investment coalition founded by Bill Gates, is making funding and resources available to the Eindhoven companies RIFT and Cellcius, both of which originated from TU Eindhoven. It is the first time that Benelux companies have received support from the fund, which also provides mentoring and education in addition to funding. Gates wants to use this coalition to accelerate the development of technologies that will contribute to a climate-neutral world in 2050.
Fellows program - RIFT
Mark Verhagen (CEO), Lex Scheepers (CTO) and Vincent Seijger (CTO) have been selected as Fellows in this year's so-called Fellows program via RIFT (Renewable Iron Fuel Technology). From hundreds of applicants worldwide RIFT is among the 28 selected projects.
This young company aims to use iron fuel worldwide as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. By burning iron fuel, using the heat generated in the process, and then converting the residual powder back into iron fuel, a circular fuel is created. Founders of this technique are TU/e combustion technology professor Philip de Goey and the Metal Power Consortium. The TU/e student team SOLID, from which RIFT eventually emerged, was part of this consortium.
The Fellows program is a two-year mentoring program that helps develop and commercialize promising technologies, and is designed to bridge the gap between the lab and the market. RIFT receives a stipend for living expenses, travel and research and development.
Explorer Grant - Cellcius
TU/e professor Olaf Adan has been selected for an Explorer Grant with the spin-off Cellcius, which was spawned by TU/e and TNO. The company is developing a heat battery with salt and water as simple components. The battery is cheap, compact and loses relatively little heat, and has the potential to heat homes on a large scale.
Explorer Grants support the ideas of young companies that have not yet evolved to the point of becoming eligible for the Fellows program. In fact, Explorer Grants are the vestibule of the Fellows program, and they provide funding for one year of research and development.
For TU/e president Robert-Jan Smits, the Gates award to two TU/e spin-offs is confirmation that the university is becoming placing increasingly emphasis on important social themes such as climate and sustainability. Both spin-offs are linked to the university's research institute EIRES, which focuses on developing technology for the energy transition.
Smits: "We are proud that these inspiring innovators from TU/e spin-offs RIFT and Cellcius have been selected to be part of this great program. The program is a fantastic initiative by Bill Gates and other private investors through which we can accelerate the energy transition. The Fellowship and Explorer Grant will help RIFT and Cellcius create even more impact."
Mark Verhagen, CEO of RIFT: "It is an honor and a great opportunity to be the first company in the Netherlands to receive this support. This investment program allows us to further accelerate development, especially for industries where it is no simple matter to become more carbon efficient and environmentally friendly in the foreseeable future."
Olaf Adan, professor at TU/e and principal scientist at TNO: "This award in a global competition is a fantastic confirmation of the potential of our Dutch innovation to contribute quickly and enormously to global CO2 reduction. The award greatly accelerates the steps towards a market-ready product and opening the way to sustainable heating and cooling for all."
Bill Gates, founder of Breakthrough Energy: "One way we can prevent a global climate catastrophe is by supporting the next generation of innovators. So that they can work even faster and smarter than ever. These new leaders will help accelerate the innovation process. The intention to invent is something that will allow us to build new companies and products faster, and bring costs down faster, so that the whole world can afford these smart climate-friendly technologies we all need."
This article was first published on 4 October by TU/e.