App which pays consumers to switch off at peak times raises £300k for roll-out
A tech startup which has created a smarter and cleaner way of using energy by enabling UK households to collectively decrease their consumption at peak times has secured over £300,000 in investment to support its growth.
Equiwatt rewards consumers for cutting their energy use at peak times, and through the creation of its app, enables users to turn off appliances simultaneously as a community, leading to significant reductions in collective demand and creating energy efficiency on a mass scale.
The business, based in Gateshead, estimates that for every 1,000 households using the Equiwatt app, 250 tonnes of carbon dioxide are offset every year. Its ambition is to work with up to 100,000 users in the near future.
To help progress its scale up plans, the venture has secured over £300,000 through a funding round involving the North East Venture Fund – supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia – and North East angel investor Owen McFarlane.
Williams Ali Corporate Finance supported Equiwatt in securing the investment, which will allow the company to run trials in the Gateshead area and create four new jobs.
Equiwatt was founded by Johnson Fernandes, whose experience of growing up in India and living through regular power cuts caused by the collective mass usage of energy, inspired his commitment to finding a cleaner and more sustainable energy solution.
Having established the business in 2017, Equiwatt has developed its market-leading technology from its base in PROTO, Gateshead, and is now attracting the attention of an increasing number of major energy companies. The business has been supported in its development to date by organisations including the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator, Newcastle University and Energy Systems Catapult.
“I have a big passion for renewable and clean energy, and having grown up experiencing regular blackouts through the collective peak time usage of energy, I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to create a cleaner way of using energy for everyone, which is also more affordable, and build a community to be able to achieve that,” said Johnson.
“Through using the Equiwatt app, which builds further on the many smart devices so many people are using to help them be more energy efficient, our users can achieve big savings through switching off devices collectively at peak times, and also secure rewards and incentives for doing so.
“The key is in the community, and together we can make a huge difference. It comes down to us all making small changes to make a big impact collectively. Building this community further is the next step for the business and our ability to scale up, and this investment will support us in being able to achieve that. Our technology is proven and the more we can grow our community, the more we can collectively be cleaner and more efficient in our energy usage.”
Phil Williams, partner in Williams Ali Corporate Finance, has significant experience in the energy sector and has worked closely with Equiwatt to secure its investment.
“Equiwatt undoubtedly has the potential to make a huge contribution to the UK domestic energy market by providing the means to reduce peak time energy usage, and Johnson and his team have the commitment and genuine passion to make that happen,” said Phil.
“We have enjoyed working very closely with Johnson for a long period of time to help shape the future financial strategy of Equiwatt and are delighted to have supported them in securing this investment.”
Jan Oosthuizen, Investment Manager with Mercia, added:
“Industrial users already receive rewards to reduce their power use at peak times and Equiwatt’s app will for the first time allow households and SMEs to do the same. The funding will enable the business to roll it out to 1,000 homes to prove its effectiveness and unlock deals with energy companies.”
Richard Butts at Ward Hadaway acted for Equiwatt in securing the investment, Oliver Rickett at Womble Bond Dickinson advised Mercia, and Philip Clare at Muckle acted for Owen McFarlane.
NOTES: The North East Fund is a suite of five venture capital and loan funds which was established in April 2018, to invest £120m in around 600 North East businesses in the period to March 2023. The fund managers provide business development advice and investment finance to small and medium sized enterprises based in the seven Local Authority areas of North East England: Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead Sunderland and County Durham. The programme encourages investment in and the commercialisation of new technologies, including low carbon technologies, as well as stimulating new business creation, private investment and entrepreneurialism in the North East, with a view to creating over 2,500 new jobs. The North East Fund has overall responsibility for the programme, which is delivered through five separate funds, each managed by independent, FCA regulated fund managers. Details of these, and up to date information on the progress of the programme, is available on The North East Fund’s website: www.northeastfund.org
The North East Fund has been established with funding from the North East of England European Regional Development Fund programme, the European Investment Bank and from returns on previous North East based, publicly supported investment funds. It is jointly owned by the seven North East local authorities.
Information about the European Regional Development Fund – The North East Fund will receive up to £58,500,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
Information about the European Investment Bank – The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend up to £60,000,000 to the North East Fund programme. The European Investment Bank is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals. For more information, visit: http://www.eib.org/about/index.htm