Ombu NEWS 2017

Waterproofing technology firm P2i has sealed a £10 million investment deal with Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank to further its ambitions with Far East smartphone manufacturers.

So far P2i’s technology has served a separate market to these giants which deploy more expensive manufacturing techniques involving mechanical solutions such as gaskets and seals.

“Issues such as heat retention, complex designs and fabrication costs mean mechanical sealing isn’t always quickly achievable though,” points out P2i’s founder and technical chief Dr Stephen Coulson.

“Any drop or bend can compromise the seals too. A water-resistant coating is more cost-effective for manufacturers who don’t have the resources of an Apple.”

The waterproofing firm is already seen as a major player having protected 175m phones. P2i’s protection has been such a hit with others, he says, because it can be delivered on a mass-scale, its technology sitting at the heart of the production process. Phones are treated in special P2i chambers just before they are packed and dispatched.

“It’s straightforward and fits easily into the manufacturing cycle,” adds Coulson. “The coatings, which allow heat to escape freely, withstand day-to-day accidents from rain, condensation, sweat and running water. “That’s without significantly increasing manufacturing costs, impairing a phone’s performance or altering a handset’s styling.

Founder Dr Stephen Coulson says the method is such a success as they can deliver on a mass scale “Now we are developing our existing splash-proof product, which can be found on headsets and hearing aids too, to help manufacturers offer protection at even lower prices, really democratising water resistance.”

The manufacturer, which employs 148 in Oxfordshire, has also developed a next-generation protection that’s scheduled for roll-out next year. “This IPX8 solution will be at the least on a par with the latest best high-end smartphones. We’ve been ready but it’s taken a while for the market to catch up,” says Moores, spurred on by latest figures from analyst IDC that show water-resistant mobile output rose 76 per cent last year.

Totally focused on exporting, P2i’s latest funding, part of a long-term relationship it has with the bank, will give it working capital, helping cement its stake in China and south-east Asia where it already has facilities in Shenzhen and Taipei.

Originally a Ministry of Defence spin-out 13 years ago, Oxfordshire-based P2i has 123 patents under its belt and became profitable in 2016. The £10 million, which follows £70.4 of million equity investment from among others ADV Partners, Unilever Ventures and Ombu, is part of Clydesdale and Yorkshire’s drive to lend to innovative, fast growing firms with strong IP assets.

Steve Clark, the bank’s senior director growth finance, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to fund such an innovative company. P2i are stretching the boundaries of the British technology scene and we look forward to working with them as they continue to grow.” According to Coulson “surface functionalities used to be an afterthought”. But now they are a key consideration, he says “as societies strive for greater quality and to reduce waste.

“As the need to safeguard vulnerable technology increases so will demand for barrier protections. We are now considering how our applications can work with sensors of all kinds from cameras to heart-rate monitors.”

By MAISHA FROST @Daily_Express 10/05/2017