Pitch to the Panel: Qdot

Established in 2018, Qdot Technology is a spin-out from the University of Oxford founded by three colleagues from the Oxford Thermofluids Institute – one of the UK’s premier institutes for aerospace technology development.

Qdot’s co-founder and CEO, Dr Jack Nicholas explains: “Our mission as a company is to enable clean flight and we’re doing that through the development of hybrid propulsion systems that will drastically reduce operating costs allowing a switch to more expensive clean fuels. To achieve this, we are innovating in high power-density battery pack systems, propulsion system architecture, and metal additive manufacturing. Our expertise and background are in aerospace, particularly in how to manage heat, and that is what sets us apart. As we were developing our thermal management technologies, we realised aerospace would be a great application for our technology and a market in which Qdot’s impact would be magnified.”

Qdot connected with OxLEP business in early 2020. Being both an innovative business and one for social good, Qdot was eligible to gain support through two of OxLEPs business support programmes; eScalate and ISfB.

Dr Tsun Holt Wong, co-founder and COO, tells us a bit about the relationship “Our relationship with OxLEP started during an Innovate UK funded project, when we were signposted to OxLEP Business. We were seeking both business mentoring and financial support to help us through the pandemic. OxLEP supported us with the Business Resilience grant funding, which was important for succeeding through the pandemic. We also gained some brilliant advice and contacts though the eScalate programme, via both one-to-one mentoring and group webinars.”

Jack adds “One of the things we struggle with most as a small business is boosting our own profile. We found getting involved with OxLEP has helped because they’ve invited us into a lot of opportunities where we’re put in front of a much larger audience than we could reach on our own. A key example of this was our invitation to be involved with OxLEP’s COP26 event, ‘The Billion Tonne Drop’."

"This event explored how the county’s expertise could be scaled-up and ultimately benefit the global fight against climate change. Our work was featured in a film, to highlight the work Oxfordshire businesses are doing to reduce emissions. This was screened at the event which was great exposure for us.”

As a business looking to scale-up and gain investment, Qdot was invited to take part in OxLEP’s Pitch to the Panel – an event that gives businesses the opportunity to meet and pitch to a group of Oxfordshire based investors. Jack tells us about their experience:

“I had done many investment pitches before, but nothing quite like this where the investors were put in front of you without you having to do any of the leg work to reach them. We were really pleased when we were asked to be involved, as any opportunity to pitch and practise is welcome.”

When asked how OxLEP supported them in their preparation for the event Jack answers “I would say I knew my slides pretty well, but the OxLEP team was brilliant in helping us refine them. We had a few meetings with them where we ran through the details and did some dry runs, and this definitely gave us more confidence when pitching.”

Following on from the Pitch to the Panel event, the team at Qdot reflect on their experience. Andrea, Qdot’s Strategy Officer tells us “The feedback from the investors was really helpful. They scored us very highly on team, IP and technology, and also provided suggestions to improve the deck which helped us explain things in a more relatable way. Overall, it’s been a great experience and I would say a great opportunity for any business to get involved in.”

Finally, Holt summarises for us how OxLEP have been a huge support for the business over the past two years:

“Oxfordshire is a great area for high value engineering, technology and science and OxLEP are doing all the right things to promote it. There aren’t many organisations doing that locally, and it would be unwise of any company in our position not to continue engaging with OxLEP as we grow our business. They’ve helped us in so many ways, especially during the lockdowns. We look forward to continuing our relationship with them in the future. And what I would say to other Oxfordshire businesses looking for support; just do it, get in touch with OxLEP Business. You’ll gain so much benefit from their expertise and connections.”

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