Six figure investment for fibre optic developer

Synaptec technology

A spin out company from the University of Strathclyde has secured funding from one of Scotland’s leading angel syndicates to help it break into the renewable energy and subsea markets.

Synaptec, which has developed high performance fibre optic technology to reduce the downtime and operating costs of electrical power networks through improved monitoring, has received £370,000 investment from the Equity Gap business angel syndicate, Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, and the University of Strathclyde.

Synaptec already works with clients including SSE and Scottish Power and this funding will help to grow its team, ramp up operations and broaden the scope of the business. A new engineer and sales manager will focus on the opportunities within markets including subsea development and renewable energy. This is Synaptec’s first round of investment.

Founded in 2014, Synaptec develops and deploys unique photonic sensing systems that use existing optical fibre network to help electricity network operators determine the health and capacity of their systems. This includes increased monitoring of voltage and current, temperature, strain and dynamic vibration.
Dr Philip Orr, managing director and one of the founders of Synaptec, says: “Monitoring, protection and control of power networks is becoming more important than ever thanks to increased global electricity demand and the simultaneous move to greater penetration of distributed renewable energy sources.

“By improving network management through enhanced awareness, we provide multiple benefits to network operators and society including cost reductions, enhanced security of energy supply, and reduced emissions.

“Our technology and approach has the potential to deliver similar performance improvements for other markets including renewables and subsea systems. The investment from Equity Gap, the Scottish Investment Bank and the University will help us to capitalise on these opportunities and we have already hired a new member of staff to broaden our capabilities.”

Equity Gap’s involvement will also give the team at Synaptec valuable access to the advice and experience of people including Ian Marchant, former CEO of SSE; Nigel Ellis, renewables consultant and former technology development director of SSE; and Jos Trehern, co-founder and former CEO of Psymetrix, which is now part of GE.

Fraser Lusty of Equity Gap, says: “We are delighted to support Philip and the team at Synaptec. Their proprietary technology impressed greatly and will allow them to scale in two key sectors where they can facilitate operational efficiencies, as well as reduce costs, for global corporate customers.”

Stuart Mackenzie, Commercialisation Infrastructure Manager at the University of Strathclyde’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Services, said: “ We are pleased to have played a part in the evolution of Synaptec, from hosting Philip Orr as Scotland’s first Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow, to the formation of the company and now in the latest addition to Strathclyde’s portfolio of spin-out investments.

“Synaptec’s team and their business proposal are highly impressive. We look forward to collaborating with the company to maximise the benefits it will bring to power network operators.”
Synaptec is a spin out from the University of Strathclyde’s Institute for Energy & Environment. The company has an executive team with a leading research background in the areas of photonic instrumentation and power systems, and an advisory team with a strong track record of company formation and growth in these fields.

As well as working with commercial clients, Synaptec is also involved in a number of research projects with institutions including the European Marine Energy Centre on Orkney.