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Lightricity – A Brighter Future Without Battery Power

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Start-up Lightricity has developed unique technology to harness the energy from indoor light sources to power Internet of Things (IoT) devices, supported by a £1.3 million grant from Innovate UK's Sustainable Innovation Fund.

From thermostats to smart lightbulbs, businesses are increasingly using devices that transmit information wirelessly. These IoT devices often rely on battery power, so can come at a cost to the environment, with more than 100 million batteries thrown away every single day. Not only is the transport and shipping of batteries hazardous, but improper disposal leads to water and air pollution.

Matthias Kauer and his team at Lightricity have created a way to power wireless sensors and IoT devices using solar PV panels that repurpose energy from indoor light sources. Without the use of any disposable or rechargeable batteries, the innovative technology generates power using just small amounts of indoor light and is six times more efficient than previous iterations of artificial light harvesting technologies.

With help from the Sustainable Innovation Fund, Lightricity has been trialling the technology with the NHS to help staff track and locate medical equipment within hospitals. Battery-powered IoT devices have been replaced with Lightricity's indoor light-powered PV device, saving maintenance time and improving sustainability by preventing batteries being thrown away. The technology has also been used in the retail and logistics sectors to take the first steps towards eradicating battery use.

Matthias and co-founder Mathieu Bellanger set up the business in 2017, with the first compound for the PV panels developed in a lab in the Oxford Science Park in 2014. With support from Innovate UK, the business has expanded rapidly and now makes the panels on a commercial scale.

Innovate UK's Sustainable Innovation Fund is a £250 million public investment programme that provides financial backing and support for innovation projects to help the UK's economy and society recover from the pandemic greener, fairer and more resilient.

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