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Graduate's heating invention launched


A device invented by two Newcastle University graduates to make houses warmer without the need to turn up the heating has been launched.

The Radfan, the brainchild of Roland Glancy and Simon Barker, works by fitting on to the top of a conventional radiator and distributing the warm air horizontally across a room – instead of letting it rise to the ceiling. It makes homes up to 2C warmer but costs just £2 a year in electricity to run.

Following support from Newcastle Science City, the Newcastle University Careers Service, The North East Angel Fund managed by Rivers Capital Partners and Santander Bank, the invention has now gone into production at the company’s assembly base in Byker. The first 1,000 units, constructed using products almost entirely made in the North East of England, are being sold via the company’s website, priced at £44.99. The company is also in talks with a number of universities, housing associations, and energy companies about distribution and making sure the unit gets to those who can benefit from it the most.

Roland said: “We are at an extremely exciting stage of development and it has been thrilling to take our idea from the drawing board, into production and ultimately launch it into the marketplace. It’s a moment we have been waiting and working hard for.

“The Radfan is a simple idea but it could have significant impact on living conditions – especially those of people affected by fuel poverty. We are really excited to learn how the first series of products are received by their buyers.”

Roland came up with the idea for the Radfan when studying for an MSc in renewable energy because his wife was continuously complaining about being cold even though the radiators in their home were working. He realised the radiator heat was not being distributed efficiently and decided to tackle the problem as an academic project.

When his Radfan idea won a business plan competition at Newcastle University he began to recognise the commercial potential of the product and joined forces with Simon to bring the product to market.

Newcastle Science City’s business support team worked with the pair to take their idea from the drawing board to the marketplace, organising testing facilities for the product, and helping Radfan take the crucial first step towards achieving independent verification which is critical to the success of their product.

Marc Lintern, Director of the Careers Service at Newcastle University, said: “Simon and Roland had a great idea for a product and we wish them every success as they grow their business.

“We provide as much expertise and support as we can to our entrepreneurial students. Our Rise Up unit provides free office space, and advice on sources of funding for start-ups. And we have established entrepreneurs with real world experience, who give training and advice, to help new companies avoid some of the pit-falls and enable to grow their businesses.”

published on: 25 March 2013