Freeplay to set up UK R&D arm

Freeplay to set up UK R&D arm
Roy Rubenstein Wind-up radio firm Freeplay Group is moving its corporate headquarters to the UK and is setting up an R&D team here. “The UK is a centre of excellence with a pool of talent both engineering and scientific,” said Rory Stear, joint chairman and co-founder of Freeplay Energy, explaining the decision to set up the R&D arm in the UK. The company’s headquarters will employ a dozen people by the autumn. “Having the UK as a centre makes sense geographically,” added Stear. “We have a lot of business in the US and increasingly in Asia, and we manufacture products in South Africa.” The R&D group – initially comprising five engineers – will focus on refining the two forms of energy storage Freeplay has licensed for use in its products: the wind-up technology from Trevor Baylis and chemical storage from General Electric. “The aim is to achieve the greatest amount of power more cheaply and in a smaller space,” said Stear. This will include developing hybrid systems using the two energy approaches. The company achieved sales of $20m to the year ending March 31. The financial year is also the first the company has achieved an operational profit, said Stear. Freeplay expects sales of its wind-up products to grow to $50m in the coming financial year. The company is currently raising between $15m and $25m to fund the next three years of expansion.


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