25 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

£2.5m investment helps Sprint to expand into AC drives

Sprint Electric directors Gary Keen and Mark Gardiner: expanding into AC drives

Sprint Electric, the Sussex-based manufacturer of DC drives, has secured investments totalling £2.5m to help it enter the AC VSD (variable-speed drives) market with a new range with regenerative capabilities, developed in conjunction with the University of Nottingham.

£2m of the new investment is coming from venture capital trusts managed by the Foresight Group private equity business, with the remaining £500,000 coming from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which is supported by the European Union via the European Regional Development Fund. Sprint has qualified for the regional funding because it has an r&d office in Nottingham.

Sprint, based in Ford in West Sussex, will use the funding for the final development and commercialisation of the new VSDs, details of which are likely to be announced later this year. The DC drives market that Sprint currently addresses is worth an estimated £370m. The AC drives market is worth around £16bn, with regenerative drives constituting a small slice of this – but considerably larger than the DC drives market.

Sprint will continue to serve the DC drives market and expects to be able to share some aspects of the new platform with its DC drives portfolio, which will benefit as a result.

Sprint, founded in 1987, currently employs 18 people and had sales worth £3m in 2022. More than 80% of its production is exported to more than 75 countries. Working with Foresight, the company plans to use the new investment to expand its operations and drive growth. It is already looking to recruit extra staff.

Sprint has worked with the University of Nottingham on the new drives for several years as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership – the part grant-funded scheme that helps UK businesses to innovate using expertise from UK universities.

As part of the investment arrangement, Tim Routsis, chairman and CEO of Cox Powertrain and former CEO of the Cosworth Group, has joinied the Sprint Electric board as non-executive chair. His experience will help Sprint to expand, with the hope of increasing its market share “significantly”.

“We are excited to work with an investment partner who shares our passion for green energy and understands the potential of the drive technology we have developed with our colleagues at the University of Nottingham,” says Sprint’s co-managing director, Gary Keen. “We welcome the appointment of Tim to the board and the wealth of experience he has in leading cutting-edge engineering businesses. This will be invaluable as we commercialise the new product range, expand our operations footprint and accelerate our sales growth.”

“I am delighted to join the Sprint Electric team at such an exciting time in the company’s history,” Routsis adds. “With Foresight’s support, Sprint Electric is in a good position to bring new products to market. This will materially grow the business, which already has an impressive export record.”