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16 November, 2021 - 10:19 By Tony Quested

Startup injects some oomph into EV-olution

The evolution of electric vehicles driving global CleanTech advancement has been bolstered by the arrival of Cambridge startup Oomph Ventures.

Oomph EV has just launched a net zero, smart box and ecosystem which will enable partner companies to provide mobile EV charging – a much needed addition to the current fixed charging infrastructure. 

With the option of both recovery and on-demand top up charge, Oomph is looking to blaze a trail in this sector.

The company is based at Hauxton House, Mill Sci-tech Park and employs five people but is actively seeking engineers to help take the technology forward.

The business has received £40k growth capital and support from South Cambridge District Council but is seeking additional funding to help accelerate further development and to take the business from prototype through to productionisation.

Oomph Ventures was founded by Morag Hutcheon, former winner of British Female Inventor of the Year 2006 and recognised by HM the Queen as a high achiever. 

A disruptive thinker with 30 years experience working as a business consultant and strategist, Hutcheon has a track record of helping global companies innovate.

She and business partner Professor Phil Gray have worked together for more than 25 years as award-winning designers and innovators for global corporations. Their focus is now to rapidly grow Oomph as the ‘go to’ provider of a rapid mobile EV charging eco-system.

Serendipity played a role in the launch of the venture. Following a day out in 2018 with a friend who had recently bought a Tesla Model S, Morag began to realise the challenges of EV driving, the limited fixed charging points, reliability issues, poor facilities and the need to plan ahead. 

As someone who admits running the gauntlet with fuel she felt that as much as she loved the prospect of driving an EV, along with all the new and exciting tech, she could never make the switch. 

The restrictions that fixed locations brought, the range anxiety that the longer trips entailed and the fact that in 2018/19 the sector was simply looking to mirror the wet fuel petrol pump model seemed somewhat old fashioned. 

The seed of an idea was formed – to create a customer centric model which put the buyer first – one that provided the convenience seen by many of the new on-demand apps such as Uber and Just Eats and would facilitate customers requesting when and where they needed charge. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Oomph Ev was born and with team expertise in both software and hardware development, a full charging ecosystem began to take shape.

A 35kW proof of concept system has been built and, as it moves into it, the business expects to have working prototypes ready to productionise by Q2.

The Oomph ecosystem will enable partner networks to offer a service that not only provides the convenience of a top-up charge whilst out shopping, in a business meeting or parked at the station but also tackles range anxiety head on. 

The proposition includes a backup service for emergency zero mile recovery situations or the longer or more rural trips where fixed charging infrastructure is limited or plagued by unreliability. The goal is simple, says Morag – to allow the customer to decide when and where to receive a charge top-up; no longer constrained by fixed location charge points, having to queue for space and while away time in locations with next to no facilities.

At a basic level, the technology is described as a complete ecosystem comprising both software and hardware containing a battery power pack with inverters and smart power electronics run by end-to-end software. 

Charge is uploaded from the grid using renewable energy supplies, transported in electric vehicles and – as and when required – discharged to the customer’s EV. 

With three systems in the pipeline, Oomph EV says it is set to fill a much needed gap in the marketplace. Akin to a digital five-litre fuel can, the smaller 14kW has been designed for roadside recovery, to get EV users back on the road quickly, whilst the 35kW and 50kw charge systems are aimed at large service providers. These embrace fleet management, last mile delivery solutions and for local authorities based in rural areas.

Oomph EV will enable those who wish to offer a paid EV charging service the smart box technology to deliver on-the-go charge. Roadside recovery, energy suppliers, car dealers and vehicle manufacturers keen to increase EV sales, and fleet operators looking for innovative solutions to keep their fleet moving as they switch to electric vehicles are a prime vertical market for the technology.

The founders believe the technology is ideal for last mile delivery logistics who, with the likes of Arrival pioneering the commercial EV space, can have confidence in keeping their vans moving.

Using these networks of electric vehicles charged by renewable energy, the smart box unit will be transported directly to the location of choice to provide pre-ordered, on-demand and emergency backup charging. 

With a smart box charging solution capable of providing 40 miles range in just 12 minutes, and up to 10 charge deliveries per working shift, Oomph’s mobile power unit will help dissolve range anxiety, drive forward ‘last mile’ EV delivery solutions, whilst offering the convenience and flexibility that the modern consumer craves, the company says.

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