Circularity Capital has continued to build its portfolio of European growth-stage businesses enabling the circular economy, with an £8m investment in P2i – a global leader in liquid repellent nanotechnology products.
Founded in 2004, P2i works with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to enhance devices by making them liquid resistant, providing waterproof protection, improving their reliability and enabling them to survive liquid exposure from everyday accidents. P2i’s range of innovative coating solutions delivers up to IPX8 lifetime protection without the need for mechanical seals or gaskets.
More than 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, the P2i coating reduces the number of devices being scrapped or returned due to water ingress, thus keeping products in circulation for longer.
Ian Nolan, partner at Circularity Capital, commented: “The scale of global e-waste defies comparison; every year we produce more weight in e-waste than the weight of 125,000 jumbo jets. And a significant proportion of these are needlessly wasted through water damage. Take smartphones for example; every day, more than 900,000 smartphones are damaged by water or other liquids. P2i enables manufacturers to solve this challenge by ‘designing-in’ waterproofing, repairability and longevity – a win-win for customers and the environment.”
“As a global leader in liquid repellent nanotechnology, P2i provides a simple and effective solution. Its pioneering range of nano-coatings offer class-leading protection against accidental water damage – from splash-proof barriers for high humidity environments, to fully IPX8-compliant heavy-duty waterproof coatings capable of outlasting the lifespan of the product.”
Renowned worldwide, P2i has protected more than 700 million devices worldwide with its unique coatings. Key customers include leading manufacturers of automotive components, medical devices, drones, IoT technology and consumer electronics.
Ian continued: “With P2i technology capable of keeping products in the value chain for longer, this investment is consistent with our hands-on approach of backing businesses that create value from a clearly-defined range of circular activities.”
Chris Saunders, Executive Chairman at P2i, added: “Announcing this investment marks a significant milestone in our corporate journey. The agreement will not only prove pivotal in supporting our continued global growth, but will also further accelerate the development of additional product offerings.
“We placed significant emphasis on partnering with an investor that brings more than just finance to the table – Circularity Capital’s specialist network and unparalleled insight in the circular economy was the perfect fit.”
Circularity Capital was established in 2015 with the mission to deliver value for investors by supporting SME growth and innovation in the circular economy. In addition to P2i, the Circularity Capital portfolio includes product ownership disruptor Grover, sustainable packaging manufacturer PackBenefit, AI technology specialist Winnow Solutions, energy efficiency expert Green Home Systems and rPVB producer Shark Solutions.
 PACE & World Economic Forum, A new circular vision for electronics
 International Data Corporation (IDC), Realizing rapid ROI and improving durability by reducing liquid damages with nano-coating technology
With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games set to get underway, Paralympians across the globe have been making final preparations before the event begins on 24th August. Marathon runner Derek Rae, representing Paralympics GB, has ambitions to replicate his success from the 2019 World Para Athletics Marathon Championships in London where he picked up a silver medal. Rae however had concerns about the potential for hot and humid conditions in Tokyo and the affect that this would have on the sling that he requires for his arm while running. With natural sweat build-up on his arm due to it being held close to his chest, the increase of weight in the sling due to water saturation could become performance-affecting, particularly as it wasn’t water repellent or breathable. This also meant that the saturation would become an issue if the sling was doused in water to cool the area.
Keen to find a solution, Rae turned to the English Institute of Sport (EIS)’s Performance Innovation team, which deploys leading edge technology, engineering and research to help sports and athletes seek performance gains. Along with their Innovation Partner Sally Cowan Ltd, a leading garment research and development prototyping company, the EIS worked closely with Rae to see where improvements could be made to the sling. The first issue to tackle was the breathability and comfort of the existing fabric. Following comprehensive testing of different prototypes with Rae, a variety of suitable fabrics were put together to devise a sling that was more comfortable and easier for him to wear, while reducing the possibility of soreness.
While this helped Rae, the potential issue of water saturation remained. Tests discovered that when his previous sling was saturated with water, it doubled in weight compared to when it was dry. The EIS and Sally Cowan Ltd reached out to P2i, the global leader in liquid repellent nanotechnology, to see if there was a solution.
P2i had previously worked with the EIS and Sally Cowan Ltd to provide a nanocoating liquid protection for athlete apparel used during the London 2012 Games, and so proved to be an ideal partner for the project. With a comprehensive nanocoating then applied to the sling, it provided a high level of water repellence that ensured it didn’t gain weight during a run and had a positive impact on Rae’s performance.
“It was an honour to have taken part in the 2016 Games at Rio and it subsequently became my ambition to compete at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. I’m delighted with the results of my water repellent sling and I feel that it has increased my chances of success at the upcoming event. The increased weight on my sling beforehand from sweat and water was an issue due to the weight of the sling which would potentially feel heavier as I was becoming more fatigued, but now it’s able to keep the vast majority of the liquid out. I can’t wait to compete in Tokyo with my improved sling and hopefully bring back a medal for Great Britain,” said Rae.
It is fantastic news that P2i has come top in the 2020 Intellectual Property League Table (IP100 League) in results just announced by leading commercial IP consulting firm, Metis Partners. It is the fourth consecutive year that P2i has been listed in the IP100 League rankings. We’ve been runner-up in the past two, so it’s great to go one better this time.
In addition, as Metis Partners acknowledged, our “outstanding IP strategy and IP management resulted in [us] achieving Top 3 positions in three of the five IP asset categories this year.“ We claimed first place in the Best in Patents IP Asset Class category, which recognised that we had bolstered our patent portfolio over the past 12 months.
P2i also made the top five in four other categories. We were placed second in the Best in Critical Database IP Asset Class, in recognition of our use of proprietary product and chemistry databases to support our revenue streams; and ranked third in the Best in Trade Secret IP Asset Class. Further underlining how broad-reaching our success has been in this year’s awards, we also finished fourth in the Brand and Reputation class and fifth in the Software IP Asset table.
We are immensely proud to have our achievements in IP acknowledged in this way. The IP100 and IP League Table was founded by Metis Partners in 2015 and is one of the UK’s most dynamic and fastest-growing platforms for scalable IP-rich companies seeking investment. It continues to raise awareness nationwide about the vital importance of IP in contributing to the growth of business and the UK economy.
IP is fundamental to the whole way we operate at P2i. IP rights allow us to protect our core business, R&D activities and innovations, and provide the basis of our primary revenue stream: licensing IP together with know-how to our customers, globally. Achieving this accolade, is a great reflection on our whole team’s focus, hard work and dedication, recognising the importance of intellectual property to our business.
Since launch, P2i has applied its patented, innovative liquid resistance nanotechnology to more than 500 million electronic devices globally, making us a world leader in this area. Our proprietary technology is changing what is possible in electronic product design while our international customer support and technical know-how are unrivalled and focused on our customers’ needs, both now and for the future to improve the quality and reliability of their products. We are really pushing the barriers of innovation today and will continue to focus on that groundbreaking work in the future.
Five in every six (83%) R&D professionals would expect their electronic products to fail within a year without liquid protection, with accidental submersion and spills seen as the two biggest risks to causing liquid damage to products, according to our latest research study.
Simon Vogt, Chief Commercial Officer at P2i said: “We are increasingly seeing manufacturers require a number of different levels of liquid protection, from splash resistance to fully submersible devices, with no one size fits all. Liquid protection is essential for products being fit for purpose”.
Ensuring brand protection is also a key consideration for businesses, with around a third of survey respondents (32%) saying it improves the user experience and 33% saying it is an important feature for marketing the final product. As users of electronic devices and products make the association between a longer lifespan and high quality, this can be compromised if the device fails within the first year of use, reflecting badly on the reputation of the manufacturer.
Finding the best solution
The study found that over a quarter (27%) of companies now solely rely on nanocoating solutions to protect products, with 61% of respondents using some form of nanocoating protection.
According to R&D professionals, the top two advantages of nano-coatings for liquid protection compared to mechanical solutions or conformal coatings were achieving longer lasting protection (53%) and easier implementation in the design process (41%), with helping to achieve environmental objectives cited by just over a quarter (26%). Furthermore, over a quarter (27%) believed there is no disadvantage in comparison to more traditional methods.
However, almost half of respondents (40%) noted cost as the largest perceived disadvantage of using nano-coating techniques, but as Vogt stated: “Nanocoating solutions provide tremendous value for manufacturers in several areas compared to other solutions. The initial investment significantly extends the product’s life to keep it in use by the customer for longer, providing cost savings from fewer returns as well as acting to strengthen the brand image.”
With a high incidence of failure for devices that don’t have liquid protection, our research findings have shown that failing to take action can lead to a range of negative consequences for businesses. There’s a range of solutions out there, but our liquid repellent nano coatings provide numerous benefits.
Looking to find out more about the crucial role that nano coating applications play in protecting products? To find out more, download our research-led whitepaper covering the views of 100 R&D professionals who are involved in the design of electronic products.
Meet our Director of China Sales Helen You
Why did you join P2i?
I believe that waterproofing is a long-term technical challenge in the mobile phone and electronics industries, and an important aspect to the mobile phone industry to demonstrate its technical capabilities. P2i has a lot to do in this area, and it is something that will be needed now and for a long time in the future.
What makes P2i and its products different?
P2i is the inventor of this liquid repellent nano-coating. It has a deep technical foundation, continuously innovates, creates, and betters its products’ quality and services.
What do you like about working with P2i’s Chinese customers?
The technological innovation capabilities of Chinese customers and their ability to rapidly respond, as well as large technical teams, have determined that China is the world’s center for the design and production of mobile phones and other electronic products. No other country in the world can compare with China. Especially under the condition of the new coronavirus, China is one of the few countries that can currently carry out normal production at the previous production speed. Our cooperation with Chinese customers will inevitably bring the greatest benefits to both parties.
What are you most looking forward to with your customers this year – the year of the Ox?
More mobile phone and electronic product customers realize the importance of waterproof coating. We look forward to welcoming new customers, and we hope to expand this business in more industries.
Finally, I wish you all the best wishes for the New Year, and wish you all the best in your career and family in the Year of the Ox!
In This Whitepaper
We have tested the best of commercially available solutions for OEMs to protect their devices against frequent cleaning from a variety of chemicals and share our findings, including the results when we put our own solutions to the test. For all the full facts and figures and to find out more, download the whitepaper :
The Impact of COVID-19 and Regular Cleaning
In an increasingly health conscious world, there has been an inevitable change in consumer behaviour in terms of tech hygiene. 92.9% of participants’ phones in a study by the Journal of Preventative Medicine and Hygiene were contaminated with bacteria from their hands, highlighting the importance of keeping devices clean, particularly in recent months where the Covid-19 virus has been shown to live on these surfaces and potentially infect users.
But this is an issue that impacts more than just smartphone users: In fact any electronic device that consumers regularly touch, and more specifically, where there is a likelihood of multiple consumers coming into contact, is at risk of contamination.
The good news is that disinfectants such as gel-alcohol are effective in reducing bacterial colonisation and inactivating coronaviruses that live on surfaces. But with an increase in regular cleaning with wet agents, comes greater risk of damage caused by liquid exposure and thus a need to sufficiently protect a device from damage.
The importance of liquid protection
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, 25% of electronic product designers surveyed in a P2i study said that liquid protection was being more frequently requested in their product designs due to increased demand, and importantly, 83% said that any device without liquid protection would fail within a year.
The Science of Liquid Damage from Cleaning Agents
The science behind how most cleaning agents work highlights the potential damage that can be done to an unprotected device.
In alcohol-based disinfectants, the high polarity of the alcohol along with impurities in the water present in the solution leads to a high level of water conductivity to a device, resulting in problems for unprotected devices. Acid-based disinfectants, while mainly made up of water, also contain enough acid to potentially lead to corrosion damage and dendrite formation within an unprotected device.
Residual water from both disinfectants can penetrate gaps and openings in devices and reach internal components, ultimately leading to a short circuit. The broken device is then binned, adding to environmentally damaging levels of electrical waste.
To Find Out More, Download The Whitepaper Now:
Earlier this month we sat down (virtually) with our founder, Dr Stephen Coulson to talk all things P2i.
What inspired you to start P2i?
SC: It goes back to my time at university when I was working on the project for my PhD. The technology was so visual, with droplets of liquid beading up and rolling off different materials, such as fabrics or tissues. This astounded the people we showed it to, who would always come up with five or six commercial applications for the technology. So I think right from the start we wanted to spin out the company, but it was about finding the right time and that didn’t come until after leaving university and moving into the UK Ministry of Defence with Dstl, and then raising the finance to create the spin out.
What was it like becoming a commercial company?
SC: The first highlight for me was actually spinning out the company. We were the first company to spin out of Dstl back in 2004 and the journey to spin out was very up and down.
After that we had to get the first range of application patents drafted and filed. We were in a unique area and pioneered the whole pulsed plasma deposition for protecting things from water and liquid damage, so we got there early, but that was another step to get through.
And then the next highlight was really signing the first customers. We were approached by people from the bio-consumables, filtration, footwear and electronics industries and I remember working with them to commercialise and productise the offering and then deploying it into their factories to show that it works there. They were really the hardest things to get done, because when you start with a new technology everybody wants to know who else has signed up and why, and if no one else has done, it makes the selling exercise so much more difficult.
Can you tell us how the P2i solutions range of today compares to the original product used by the Ministry of Defence?
SC: The UK Ministry of Defence were looking at repelling chemical agents, so it was all about liquid repellency of difficult to repel liquids. For my PhD we focused on a very academic way of looking at liquid repellency, with regards to putting very specific chemistry down on the surface to achieve the desired effect.
Then as we moved into the UK Ministry of Defence it became more application based, with regards the specific performance on military fabrics and clothing. In addition we commenced the business development activities to see who else valued the performance we could achieve and quickly realised from working with customers for electronics applications, maximising repelling liquids as we’d previously understood it, was not the right focus. So although the customers would come to us saying “can you resist these liquids?”, we would explain that we can protect the electronic device from being damaged by liquid by preventing the liquids going in. However, what it wouldn’t do is protect it should liquid be forced into the device. We realised very quickly that the full range of liquid protection needs to be against splashes and spills, short immersions and then longer immersions underwater – that is the range of environments electronics come into contact with.
So we developed a product offering to address all of those liquid and environmental challenges: Today we can protect against all possible spills, short immersions and then deeper and longer submersions under water and other liquids.
What has been the most important thing you’ve learnt along the way?
SC: I think when looking back now, it’s essential that when you develop something, you’re doing it alongside your customer as much as you can, because what you output from it has got to be industry relevant. It is not about the technology, it’s about the benefit it gives the customer and how easily it can fit into their supply chain and into their manufacturing process. I think that’s one key element.
At this point in 2020 we’re in a global pandemic: How is that impacting what we’ve done this year?
SC: We get asked this question a lot. Really there’s certain things we have succeeded well on and other things we’ve improved our resilience to. So I think from a company perspective we very much moved forward with some of our key clients and customers in the electronics sector, where we’ve proved out the technical function of our coating technology against the critical customer requirements. Although I can’t go into any more detail at this stage, we’ve also hit some very key milestones with certain technologies and that’s a huge step forward.
But there’s obviously been a lot of challenges, as there have been for everybody, and so there’s some key resilience things we’ve improved on as a company. We’ve managed to set ourselves up to be able to work remotely in a secure fashion so people can all work from home or from wherever they need to work from to get their job done successfully. This was something that our IT systems were actually set up to do before the pandemic, so we were in a fortunate position. Of course there were certain tweaks we needed to make, but our IT team managed to deploy those very quickly.
And then from a customer service and support perspective, with all the quarantines in our different global locations, that was very problematic and challenging at the time. So our operations team have worked very hard to successfully deploy the right people in the right locations, providing the right training and to have gotten all the necessary spares and kits they need to operate within the territory to deliver what the customer needs to be successful.
What’s it like being the founder of P2i today?
SC: It’s great to be a part of P2i, to see it grow over the years and to see our teams building in all the territories.
We’ve obviously got a lot of challenges yet to go, however protecting electronics from water and corrosion damage is not a fad. It’s something that will be around forever, especially with the growth of 5G and the Internet of Things. There are going to be more electronics out there and the correct functioning and longevity of those is essential, and our technology is there to protect it. We look forward to working with our partners to roll out our full product portfolio across their complete range of electronic devices.
It is a sustainable solution, so it is providing the correct chemistries and the correct protection, whilst allowing rework and repair and reducing landfill and waste. So it is the must have technology for electronic devices.
SC: Thank you to everyone who has been part of the journey over the last nearly 17 years. There have been many, many people and, although I am referenced as the founder of the company, it has always been a ‘we’ when it comes to the successes of P2i. That’s because there’s always been other people there to help to get us to where we are today. It’s down to all those people that we’ve achieved the things we have achieved over the years and long may it continue!
With COVID-19 causing global travel restrictions, many of us have had to adapt to virtual working environments. For the manufacturing industry, this has proven particularly challenging. According to some research performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States, only 41% of those working in manufacturing were able to work from home as of April 2020, compared to 81% of those who work in financial activities.
This is why we are proud to announce our work with Instrumental. Instrumental is a Manufacturing Optimization System, designed for rapid adoption by engineering and operations teams to provide tangible improvements to yield, uptime, throughput, efficiency, time to market, and end user delight. Their technology digitizes and aggregates product data, processing it with smart algorithms. They present engineers and operations teams with actionable information that enables them to optimize their product and process.
We have been using Instrumental to improve our customer’s experience with our Dunkable® technology. To explain how Instrumental has helped us increase our engineering capacity by 300% during COVID-19, our Chief Science Officer, Founder and President Information Security Dr Stephen Coulson joined Instrumental CEO and Founder Anna-Katrina Shedletsky for a webinar on Tuesday 1st December to discuss our joint case study and answer questions.
You can also download the case study here.
If you have any questions, please contact us.
Earlier this year Martin Tolliday joined P2i’s board of executives as Chief Product Officer. Having studied Automotive Technology, he brings over 25 years of experience from the Automotive, Motorsport and Defence industries to P2i.
What brought you to P2i?
MT: Having headed up the Electronics division at Cosworth for a number of years, back in 2015 P2i offered me a position to run the engineering group. Unfortunately I wasn’t here very long, but I stayed in contact with Ady and Stephen. Then in 2019, I decided to leave my post at Ricardo and return to P2i as the VP of Products. There’s a great group of people here, but I saw the opportunity in P2i for growth and it really felt like something I hadn’t completed on my first tour. I really wanted to be part of helping P2i achieve its true potential.
Returning after four years away must give you a unique perspective?
MT: Yes. Some things are still the same: The same challenges with developing a complex product, a lot of the people are the same, and a lot of the customers are similar. Over the first 8 months of my return, it became apparent that P2i had grown considerably since I was last here, with a bigger product portfolio. But unfortunately the processes hadn’t kept up with the growth. So we put a lot of effort into developing these processes and restructuring the business so it was more appropriate for where we want to take the business in terms of growth and product development. This is when Ady decided to offer me the position of Chief Product Officer.
So what sets P2i’s products apart?
MT: The performance, the quality, the repeatability and the way we operate with our customers. P2i work in partnership with our customers to make sure they get the best possible service and quality of product.
What’s on the roadmap for P2i’s products?
MT: P2i will have a product portfolio that has clear blue water between us and the competition. And that means taking on larger customers and expanding into different market sectors, such as automotive and other consumer electronics.
There will be new hardware platforms in which we will process customer’s equipment, focusing on ease of installation, process quality and repeatability. And there will be new chemical platforms to ensure we stay ahead of any regulatory requirements, as well as to continually try and improve the overall quality and delivery of our coating.
It’s very important to stay in tune with any regulations and any regulations that are being considered. The focus has to be continuing to make sure we are ahead of the curve before any regulations are released.
Any final thoughts?
MT: I am excited about my role at P2i. The difference with myself having run companies of the same size or bigger, is understanding not only from an engineering prospective but also from a commercial perspective. It helps bring a different dimension that is not normally brought with someone in this position. When I joined P2i I was looking for it to be the last company I work for. There’s some great young talent here and it’s important that we develop that as they will be next generation.
9th September 2020, Oxford, UK
P2i, the global leader in liquid repellent nano-coating technology, is launching a new solution for hearing aids. The new coating solution, which will be deployed on a new machine introduced by P2i, is compliant with EU 2020/784 amendment to EU 2019/1021.
As such, the solution will help medical equipment manufacturers comply with this recently-updated regulation, which significantly restricts the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds.
P2i’s in-depth understanding of the hearing-aid market is based on knowledge and capability built up over time. It has proven expertise in protecting hearing aids from moisture, sweat and body oils. The company has been manufacturing water-proof coatings in the medical field for over ten years and is a trusted and established player in the market.
Simon Vogt, Chief Commercial Officer, P2i, said: “At P2i, we have established a strong reputation for environmentally-friendly coatings. We ensure all those we develop do not use chemicals that are banned under the Stockholm Convention, and that they are always non-irritating, non-allergenic and non-sensitising to the skin.”
P2i now works with many European and Japanese hearing aid suppliers, and its hearing aid manufacturer customers currently account for nearly two-thirds (65%) of the overall hearing aid market.
Simon added: “Our success in developing this new PFOA-compliant coating further highlights our expertise in creating liquid-repellent coatings for medical devices and with it our potential to expand into other sectors of the market in the future.”
P2i is the global leader in liquid-repellent nanotechnology.
P2i’s patented pulsed plasma deposition process provides the highest levels of liquid repellency by delivering hydrophobic nano coatings on entire 3D products, on the inside and out. Our functional nano coatings provide protection spanning from humidity and weather, to splashes and spills and even accidental submersion. We tailor our technology to suit specific devices: their target market, performance requirements and levels of potential liquid damage they will be exposed to.