Press Releases

Funding success for solar power firm as investment in University of Reading spin-out companies passes £5 million – University of Reading

Release Date : 16 December 2009

Last month, University of Reading spin-out companies reached a new landmark with the completion of a £2.7 million funding round by Whitfield Solar. This takes the total investment raised by companies spun out from the University above £5 million.

Significantly, more than £3 million of investment was raised during 2009. Since early-stage investment has declined substantially during the recession, this is a particularly impressive achievement which demonstrates investors' recognition of the exciting potential of the University's research.

Whitfield Solar was incorporated in 2004 with seed investment from the Cascade Fund, as a vehicle to commercialise the research work of Dr George Whitfield and Dr Roger Bentley from the University of Reading into low-cost solar concentrators. In November 2009 it received further investment from the Cascade Fund, as part of an overall injection of £2.7m by a private syndicate of new investors along with existing investors Carbon Trust Investments Limited and Kilsby Limited.

Whitfield Solar has successfully proven its solar concentrator platform at test sites in Spain and now has one of the only commercially available roof top concentrator platforms on the market.The new funding will enable it to expand its workforce and build on existing commercial success in Spain, extending its sales strategy in both existing and emerging solar markets. It is fast demonstrating the potential to become a UK clean tech export success story.

Stephen Bates, Chief Executive at Whitfield Solar, said: "Since Whitfield Solar incorporated in 2004, we have proven the technology that came out of three decades of research into low-cost solar concentrators. We are now planning to tap into a wealth of commercial opportunities, both in Europe and farther afield. We are confident that this additional funding will provide the catalyst for us to grow the business in our existing European market and make significant inroads into the rapidly expanding solar market in Asia-Pacific."


Press information: University of Reading press office: 0118 378 7115

Notes to editors:

For further information on spin out companies and the University of Reading - please contact Dr Sue O'Hare, Head of Technology Transfer at the University of Reading, via email on or by telephone on 0118 935 7198.

About the University of Reading


  • The University of Reading is rated as one of the top 200 universities in the world (THE-QS World Rankings 2009).


  • The University of Reading is one of the UK's top research-intensive universities. The University is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing research council grants worth nearly £10 million from EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, AHRC and BBSRC. In the RAE 2008, over 87% of the university's research was deemed to be of international standing. Areas of particular research strength recognised include meteorology and climate change, typography and graphic design, archaeology, philosophy, food biosciences, construction management, real estate and planning, as well as law.


  • The University is estimated to contribute £600 million to the local economy annually.


  • The University of Reading is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.



  • The Technology Transfer Office manages the University's portfolio of intellectual property as a vital component of Open Innovation, offering companies access through licence agreements or creating spin-out companies to develop new products and bring them to market.



About Whitfield Solar:


For more information, visit



About the Cascade Fund:


Cascade is an early stage or seed fund available to five partner universities in the South East of England: Brunel, Reading, Royal Holloway, Surrey and Sussex. It invests in activities that have moved beyond the scope of Research Council funding but which are still too early for conventional funding sources. The Cascade Fund has £4 million, 75% funded by the Office of Science & Technology (with contributions from the Wellcome Trust and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation) under the second round of the University Challenge Scheme, and 25% by the partner universities. The Cascade Fund is managed by an independent fund manager, Chord Capital Limited.


For more information, visit



About Chord Capital Limited:


Chord Capital Limited is an independent fund manager that invests in technology-based opportunities to provide both early-stage and development funding, with a particular emphasis on exploiting intellectual property and early commercialisation of new technologies. It invests across a range of technologies where it can bring commercial, technical and financial experience. Chord Capital is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


Chord Capital helps with the commercialisation of technologies, both internally and through external collaborations with partners, to the stage where they can generate licence revenue or be transferred to a new business. In addition, the company has links to a wide range of independent collaborative partners to provide access to new funds, corporate finance skills, specialist technology development services and corporate development expertise.


For more information, visit


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