Stephenson Fund: Companies provided with funding

Read about the companies the Stephenson Fund has invested into.


Amalyst, based in Birmingham, is a spin-out from University College London (UCL), which has developed a class of catalyst for fuel cells (which generate electricity from hydrogen) and electrolysers (for the production of hydrogen) which are not based on platinum. The Amalyst catalyst aims to be a drop-in replacement for “gold standard” platinum catalysts but is significantly cheaper per unit of power. The progress made in the development of fuel-cell technology as well as hydrogen production has led to growing interest in the automotive sector to develop the next generation of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

David Hodgson, Amalyst’s CEO, said: “We’re delighted to have the Stephenson Fund participate in this latest round of investment into Amalyst. The support of the Institution will be particularly valuable to us as we engage with multi-national companies.”

Visit the Amalyst website.


Inductosense, a spin-out of Bristol University, is developing novel ultrasonic sensors for monitoring corrosion, cracks or defects. The technology is known as the WAND - Wireless And Non Destructive system and it works by bringing a measurement probe near to a compact, battery-free sensor installed on a structure. The sensors are small, passive and wireless and can therefore be permanently attached to structures, even if the structures are beneath a layer of material or coating. This leads to a significant reduction in cost and downtime associated with convention monitoring.

Dr Matt Butcher, CEO at Inductosense, said: 
“Over the past year we have had great success in development of the technology and commercial traction. With the investment we want to accelerate our pace and progress from trials to commercial deployment of sensors. We are also commercialising some exciting new products.”

Visit the Inductosense website


Lontra’s Blade Compressor® is a step change in air compressor technology, best imagined as a piston and cylinder, but with the cylinder wrapped into a ring doughnut shape. The design involves a constantly open intake port, without valves. As the piston rotates, it draws in air behind it and compresses air in front of it in an almost continuous cycle. Blade Compressor® has a unique oil-free geometry providing internal compression with very low leakage and low inlet and outlet flow losses giving a machine that is quieter, smoother and highly efficient.

A low pressure (1Bar/15psi) Blade Compressor® has already been proven in a trial with Severn Trent Water, where reductions in energy consumption of over 21% were observed. The technology is now licensed for production within the municipal and regulated waste water sector to Sulzer, a global leader in pumping equipment with 21 manufacturing facilities worldwide. The multi-million pound deal will see aeration equipment incorporating Lontra’s technology sold across 150 countries.

Steve Lindsey, CEO of Lontra, said: “We are delighted to be among the first to receive funding and endorsement from the Stephenson fund. This will support further development of our Blade Compressor® IP as we seek new licensees. We’re proud that the industrial revolution continues to this day, and that the UK remains at the forefront of engineering innovation.”

Visit the Lontra website.

Oxford Space Systems

Harwell-based OSS launched in September 2013 to develop a new generation of deployable structures for space that are lighter, less complex and lower cost than existing products in commercial demand. Using conventional, as well as new proprietary materials, OSS is rapidly developing a range of deployable antennas, booms and panel technologies. These electro-mechanical structures are primarily focused on supporting a new generation of micro-satellites for a range of space based services.

Oxford Space Systems has secured a number of collaborative development contracts with the largest names in the European space industry and is on target to achieve in-orbit demonstration of its disruptive technology at the end of next year, setting a record in going from concept to flight in under 3 years.

Founder and CEO of Oxford Space Systems, Mike Lawton, said: “I’m delighted about the excellent progress we’ve made since founding the business in September 2013. This has placed us in a good position to close our planned second round of funding which has included the Stephenson Fund. We’re very pleased to have secured investment from the fund, as in addition to the gravitas of an association with the Institution, we’re looking forward to mutually beneficial opportunities to attract young talent to world of mechanical engineering.”

Visit the Oxford Space Systems website.


Oxsensis harsh environment instrumentation enables performance enhancement in critical applications in Aerospace, Energy and Oil and Gas. With Oxsensis’ optical sensors, invisible light is sent down an optical fibre and reflected from a piece of nano-machined sapphire, which is positioned in an extreme sensing application such as the wall of a gas turbine combustion system. This light is unaffected by high temperature, and the sapphire crystal is very resilient to the hostile environment – with technical differentiators being high temperature capability (1000 °C), immunity from electromagnetic interference, multi-measure and sensing, intrinsically safe sensors, and the ability to deploy at kilometres' distance.

Oxsensis has developed partnerships with major industrial companies including GE Aviation and Parker Aerospace. The company is using its core intellectual property to build a portfolio of customers and products in the high performance instrumentation market. The company’s instrumentation is aimed at enabling tangible improvements in efficiency, emissions, and performance in energy intensive capital equipment such as aero-engines, power stations, and oil production systems.

CEO Ian Macafee said: “Investment by the Institution's Stephenson Fund is a major vote of confidence in our young and innovative company and we look forward to benefitting from the wide support and opportunities that the Institution brings.”

Visit the Oxsensis website.


Proxisense is a spin-out from Oxford University’s Engineering Department developing proximity sensors and fluid contamination systems for use in extreme environments. These are used to monitor the health of turbine blades and lubrication fluids in, for example, jet engines and can extend component lifetimes, increase efficiency and reduce maintenance and downtime costs.

Proxisense is working closely with companies such as Alstom and Rolls Royce to develop extreme environment proximity sensors for steam turbine blades as well as developing fluid contamination sensing technology which provide real-time, reliable monitoring of transport fluids and lubricants in aircraft and other vehicles. The company is based on the work of Prof Kam Chana who has over twenty years’ experience working alongside leading industrial clients such as Rolls-Royce, Alstom (now GE) and Siemens.

Paul Vickery, Chairman of Proxisense, said:

“I am very excited to form this new company based on the world class technology developed by Professor Chana. We have created a compelling business plan, raised launch funding from the Stephenson Fund, Oxford Sciences Innovation and Angel Investment and formed a strong leadership team led by Mark Papworth, our newly appointed CEO. I look forward to building a business that already has several sensors systems available for sale to enable sensing in extreme environments.

Visit the Proxisense website

Silicon Microgravity

Silicon Microgravity Limited is a spin-out from Cambridge University. The underpinning sensor technology was developed through a collaboration with BP plc and provides a breakthrough in the management of oil and gas reservoirs. The breakthrough sensing technology enables the recording of gravity data at very high sensitivities and seismic data at ultra-low frequencies.  The breakthrough sensors are based on Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. The Company’s MEMS technology is differentiated from other available MEMS technology by using a highly sensitive resonant frequency sensing methodology.

Paul Vickery, Chairman and Co-Founder of Silicon Microgravity, said: “The Institution’s investment is a vote of confidence for our vision to build an international business that can help oil companies enhance oil recovery from their major assets.”

Visit the Silicon Microgravity website

Tokamak Energy

Tokamak Energy aims to accelerate the development of fusion as a low carbon energy source. Tokamak Energy’s approach uses recent advances in high temperature superconductors and the inherent performance advantages of spherical tokamaks to deliver a faster, more economical means of achieving fusion power from compact modules. The solution is scalable and modules could be built in factories or shipyards for rapid deployment. Tokamak Energy was announced in August as a Technology Pioneer 2015 by the World Economic Forum; further recognition that the company has an exciting plan to tackle a major challenge.

Dr David Kingham, Tokamak Energy’s CEO, said: “The investment by the Institution is worth much more than the money to us. It is a recognition that the development of fusion energy is an engineering challenge that can be tackled through rapid innovation in compact devices. The world needs a clean base-load energy solution that is abundant, safe and CO2-free. Fusion is one of the few options available and we believe it is critical to find the quickest, most cost effective and realistic pathway to fusion energy.”

Visit the Tokamak Energy website.


Southampton-based Utonomy has developed innovative technology to automatically optimise the pressure in gas distribution networks. Utonomy’s smart network pressure management aims to reduce leakage by up to 25%. This provides a significant financial payback for gas network operators as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Adam Kingdon, CEO of Utonomy, said: “We are delighted to receive investment through the Stephenson Fund. This will enable us to complete the product development and certification of our innovative solution for reducing methane emissions. We are very fortunate to have the Institution of Mechanical Engineers as a shareholder and look forward to working with them as we grow Utonomy into a world leading company.”

Visit the Utonomy website

Oxford Flow

Oxford Flow designs and manufactures innovative pressure control equipment using technology developed at Oxford University. Elegantly engineered to be smaller and lighter than competing technology, Oxford Flow’s Pressure Reducing Valves (PRVs) and Gas Pressure Regulators can significantly reduce costs for energy, water and process industries.

Neil Poxon, CEO of Oxford Flow, said: “From hiring bright young talent to welcoming seasoned professionals, we’ve added 10 people at our Oxford headquarters in the last year, taking the total number of employees to a couple of dozen,” he says. “We’ve also used the investment to drive our R&D work. This includes the development and installation of cutting-edge testing equipment and facilities.”

Visit the Oxford Flow website

Joost Engines

Joost was founded in 2013 (as Oxford 2 Stroke) by Ollie Jukes, a young engineer working for Rolls Royce at the time who was looking to develop an alternative to the heavy and expensive 4- stroke engines used in his hobby off-road motorcycle racing.

The Joost Engine has all the weight, power and simplicity benefits of a 2-stroke engine, but with the emissions and efficiency performance of modern 4-strokes. Its opposed piston, single cylinder design is scalable from 5hp to 50hp, perfectly balanced for whisper-quiet operation, and multi-fuel compatible.

IMechE are pleased to award the Stephenson Fund to Joost Engines and look forward to seeing the final results of The Joost™ Outboard.

Visit the Joost Engines website

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