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Profile of an award-winning SME – BSP talks to Cherwell Business Award winners, Oxford PV
In a recent study of the local innovation economy in the UK*, Oxfordshire topped the findings; for the most innovative workforce, most innovative products and services; and rivals London for the UK’s most innovative workforce.
Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than at Oxford PV (OPV), the UK start-up commercialising perovskites to produce highly efficient low cost solar cells. Using technology set to revolutionise the BIPV market, OPV’s new solar glass will “turn skyscrapers into power stations”, and transform the way we resolve our energy requirements into the future.
Earlier this year OPV beat off strong local competition to win the Cherwell Business Innovation and Creativity Award, sponsored by Begbroke Science Park.
As momentum gathers, and nominations flow in for the 2015 Awards, we caught up with Lead Development Engineer Jim Watts as he reflected on OPV’s winning ways in 2014:
Oxford PV is no stranger to awards, so what did winning the CBA Innovation and Creativity Award in 2014 mean for the company?
“It’s great publicity for us, winning this award where such a cross-section of diverse industries is represented.”
What’s different about this award compared to others that OPV has won?
“We’ve won industry awards, so we’ve had the recognition from our peers, if you like – what was good for us about the CBA award was being acknowledged in front of such a wide and diverse audience of local business professionals.”
Winning the awards is easy, isn’t the hard part always filling out the application form?
“Our Office Manager commented that she found the application forms easy to complete – it only took a while because she entered Oxford PV for so many categories! Winning the Innovation and Creativity award this year was the one we wanted, to get recognition for our work in front of everyone else.”
What did you think of the venue?
“ The venue was lovely – easy to get to, and having just the one event going on made it feel more special – I’ve been to events in large hotels where you have to check carefully to make sure you’re at the right event, and not someone else’s wedding!”
Did you enjoy the awards ceremony?
“I thought it was a great night; it was a proper networking event. Some of the guests on my table had enjoyed the previous year’s dinner so much that they’d booked tickets again for 2014 even though their company wasn’t up for an award – now that’s the sign of a good event!”
And finally, do you plan to enter again in 2015?
“Our nominations are already in – and again, we are entering several categories.”
OXFORD PV – the headlines
Founded in 2010, OPV is a spin-out from Oxford University. Its technology builds on research led by physicist Professor Henry Snaith and his team at the Clarendon Laboratory.The company, fronted by CEO Kevin Arthur, has grown from 2 to over 30 employees in just 4 years.
In 2012 founder Professor Henry Snaith was awarded the prestigious Paterson medal and prize for his important contributions to the field of excitonic solar cells, and was recognised last year by Nature magazine as one of the Top 10 people who mattered to science.
In 2013 OPV picked up the Best Early Stage Investment in a Disruptive Technology Business Award at the UK Business Angels Association Awards, and the British Renewable Energy Innovation Award.In 2014 OPV appointed David Fyfe as Executive Chairman, David Smyth as Chief Financial Officer, and Chris Case as Chief Technology Officer. All are experienced in early stage company management, and the appointments are expected to strengthen their board as they accelerate commercialisation.
Company co-founder and CEO Kevin Arthur said: “To be able to attract professionals of this calibre underlines the significant progress Oxford PV has made in the last 12 months and how serious we are about becoming a world leader in bringing to market this pioneering solar technology.”
*CEBR UK Local Innovation Index 2014 http://www.cebr.com/reports/uk-local-innovation-index/