20 Mar 2013

Newcastle University graduates launch heating invention

Radfan is launched

A device invented by two Newcastle University graduates to make houses warmer without the need to turn up the heating has been launched.

The Radfan, the brainchild of Roland Glancy and Simon Barker, works by fitting on to the top of a conventional radiator and distributing the warm air horizontally across a room – instead of letting it rise to the ceiling. It makes homes up to 2C warmer at a cost of around just £2 a year in electricity.

Following support from Newcastle Science City, the Newcastle University Careers Service, The North East Angel Fund managed by Rivers Capital Partners and Santander Bank, the invention has now gone into production at the company’s assembly base in Byker. The first 1,000 units, constructed using products almost entirely made in the North East of England, are being sold via the company’s website www.radfan.com, priced at £44.99. The company is also in talks with a number of universities, housing associations, and energy companies about distribution and making sure the unit gets to those who can benefit from it the most.

Roland said: “We are at an extremely exciting stage of development and it has been thrilling to take our idea from the drawing board, into production and ultimately launch it into the marketplace. It’s a moment we have been waiting and working hard for.

“The Radfan is a simple idea but it could have significant impact on living conditions – especially those of people affected by fuel poverty. We are really excited to learn how the first series of products are received by their buyers.”

Roland came up with the idea for the Radfan when studying for an MSc in renewable energy because his wife was continuously complaining about being cold even though the radiators in their home were working. He realised the radiator heat was not being distributed efficiently and decided to tackle the problem as an academic project.

When his Radfan idea won a business plan competition atNewcastleUniversityhe began to recognise the commercial potential of the product and joined forces with Simon to bring the product to market.

NewcastleScienceCity’s business support team worked with the pair to take their idea from the drawing board to the marketplace, organising testing facilities for the product, and helping Radfan take the crucial first step towards achieving independent verification which is critical to the success of their product.

Matt Hindhaugh, business mentor atNewcastleScienceCity, said: “Radfan is a perfect example of the ground-breaking technological ideas that are being developed inNewcastleand have potential to positively impact on the rest of the world.

“With their innovative fans now in production, Radfan could revolutionise the way people heat their homes and will be particularly useful in the fight against fuel poverty.”

Marc Lintern, Director of the Careers Service atNewcastleUniversity, said: “Simon and Roland had a great idea for a product and we wish them every success as they grow their business.

“We provide as much expertise and support as we can to our entrepreneurial students. Our Rise Up unit provides free office space, and advice on sources of funding for start-ups. And we have established entrepreneurs with real world experience, who give training and advice, to help new companies avoid some of the pit-falls and enable to grow their businesses.”

Luis Juste,DirectorSantander UniversitiesUK, said: “Roland and Simon really impressed everyone within the judging panel at the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards. With such drive and determination nobody doubted they would achieve their goal to launch the product onto the market. AtSantanderwe are delighted to see the product is now available to all consumers, helping manyUKhouseholds to save money on their energy bills.” 

In partnership with North East-based property business, Gentoo, the Radfan is currently being trialled in a small number of homes to investigate what difference it has made to their living conditions.

Although the trial is yet to be completed, early anecdotal evidence suggests the Radfan has been effective. Miss Featonby-Warren, a Gentoo customer living in Sunderland, said: “I’ve definitely noticed a difference in room temperature and in how quicker my living room heats up. Since Gentoo fitted the Radfan my radiator has been turned down from 4 to 3 or sometimes even 2.”

Simon and Roland can be seen in a new campaign to promote the ambitious Science Central development in the heart of Newcastle. Science Central is set to become a new flagship location for science and technology, a thriving environment for business and commerce, and a beacon of sustainable living and leisure. For more information click here 

Radfan is one of hundreds of businesses thatNewcastleScienceCityhas worked with to commercialise new insight-led ideas, helping them to innovate and grow.ScienceCityis focussed on helping businesses find and develop commercial solutions inNewcastle’s science themes of ageing, sustainability and medicine – the big growth areas in society, which are areas of strength for the city and are most in need of innovative thinking for future sustainable development.

To find out how Science City can help your business contact  Simon Green, head of business support, on 0191 208 4117 or email [email protected]

NewcastleScienceCityis part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government, securing £2.3million of ERDF investment. The ERDF Competitiveness Programme 2007-2013 is bringing over £300m into the North East to support innovation, enterprise and business support across the region.

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