Marine Power Systems (MPS) was founded in 2008 by our chief technology officer, Dr Graham Foster, and myself. We are both engineering graduates of Swansea University with business experience in technology development.
As keen surfers, who enjoy all water sports, we have a passion for renewable energy and wanted to explore marine renewables, specifically wind and wave.
The wave energy convertor technology was originally developed after a detailed study on the requirements for improving wave energy extraction methods and understanding the problems preventing devices reaching commercialisation.
MPS quickly raised sufficient capital to develop and test a small-scale model. The first technology patent was filed in July 2008, and following this, a thorough review was carried out. The result was that the technology offered substantial advantages over existing devices and the decision was made to form a company to develop that technology.
It’s taken years of hard work to grow the business from where we started 14 years ago. We managed to secure funding from private investors and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh government, in the form of a £12.8m grant.
We’ve seen fantastic development trajectory, culminating with MPS currently providing the only modular floating wind, wave and combined solution that can be used in deep water. Built on a common platform, our devices deliver both cost efficiency and performance throughout the entire product lifecycle –from manufacture, through deployment to operations and maintenance.
MPS has developed two innovative products and flexible technology solutions that can be configured to harness wind energy, wave energy, or a combination of the two. Our structurally efficient floating platform, PelaFlex, delivers excellent stability and straightforward deployment and maintenance. Our market leading wave energy converter, PelaGen, harnesses heave and surge wave energy to deliver an extremely competitive cost of energy.
We recognise the need to transition to a low carbon world and the role clean, renewable energy is playing to achieve net-zero. If we look at the world's oceans - in terms of wind and wave energy - we have enough exploitative resource to be able to power the entire planet, yet it's hardly been tapped.
Coupled with the fact that global electricity consumption is a £2+ trillion annual global market, which is growing year on year - we understand the opportunities this huge gap in the market has for innovative businesses in the marine renewable energy sector.
Our ambition is to become the world leader in the supply of marine energy extraction hardware, by producing the highest performance and most cost-effective technology available on the market.
Make sure in the beginning you ask yourself hard questions and be honest with yourself. Is the business plan you have credible? Is your idea required? Is it innovative and competitive, or better than what already exists on the market?
Seek advice from others who have started in a company. We’ve had the benefit of learning from several successful businesspeople with valuable knowledge and experience - some from within the area of renewable energy in Swansea.
Being realistic can help to provide direction and avoid disappointment. You need to set yourself a plan and not be too over ambitious, accepting that some business technologies, such as a wave energy converter – that is an industry first – takes time.
Something well worth considering and that has been important for MPS’ business model is intellectual property (IP) rights. IP is vital; it can be one of your main assets. It adds value to the company and provides the rights for freedom of operation. Get a respected patent attorney to ensure your idea is unique and you’re not infringing on others’ concepts.
Lastly, funding is obviously a key ingredient to reaching success. Raising sufficient grant and private investment funding is crucial to support product development. During the early days, MPS envisioned raising finance by going to London and further afield.
Offers were received from along the M4 corridor, but most of the financial and business support has come from within Wales. We’ve received several grants from the Welsh Government through this whole process, which have proved invaluable.
The way we are measuring success in relation to our commercial goals is by identifying the number of prospective buyers, where they are in terms of the project pipeline and likelihood of device sales.