Kickstarting, commercialising and exploring

News editor

A crowdfunding model is helping technology innovators find new routes to bringing their ideas to market, while businesses in the Northwest have a new organisation devoted to helping with the same problem

Last week you may have noticed an announcement regarding CADScan 3D, a 3D scanner claimed by its developers to bring 3D scanning ‘within the reach of professionals and hobbyists alike.’

With a scanning envelope comparable to many 3D printers on the market, the machine is claimed to ‘generate a watertight mesh, suitable for use with a 3D printer at the push of a button – all without the need for calibration, training or post processing.’


In publicity material Alastair Buchanan, co-founder of CADScan said, ‘There are millions of engineers and designers worldwide who want an affordable means of turning physical objects into 3D models – with CADScan 3D we believe will meet that need.’

The fact that the machine is priced at £650.00 seemed quite remarkable at the time. However, what made this piece of PR stand out from the unread emails in my Inbox was the way in which the project is being funded.

Company founders Buchanan and Tony Rhoades got the project off the ground with seed investment from the Matrix Model Group and grant funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

All very straightforward so far.

They then looked to so-called crowd-funding to raise funds to take the idea to market, launching a campaign on Kickstarter on February 12 with a fund-raising target of £80,000 by March 19.

For this project, Kickstarter lets people pledge funds of between £5 and £5,000 in return for rewards, which in this case includes different versions of the 3D scanner.

This aspect of crowd-funding lets people get their product, service or venture off the ground without having to repay capital or lose equity.

At the time of writing, Kickstarter had helped the duo raise £38,288 in six days and anyone wanting a slice of the action can find out more here.

Crowdfunding is very much on the agenda this week with the UK’s First National Crowdfunding Conference.

Taking place tomorrow at Hertfordshire University, the Deep Impact conference will seek to explain how the rise of crowdfunding opens access to new sources of funding via new, more accessible, funding models.

Three workshops – Entrepreneurs & Business Owners; Investors, Educators & Academics; and Coaches, Mentors & Professional Advisors – will help guide attendees through the crowdfunding landscape and keynotes include Darren Westlake, CEO of Crowdcube ltd, Matthew Fell, director of the CBI, and Julie Meyer, entrepreneur.

The spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is alive and well in north west England this week with the launch tomorrow of Innovus, a technology development programme aimed at commercialising promising ideas generated in the region.

In June last year the West Cumbria Economic Blueprint was launched by Britain’s Energy Coast with the aim of helping businesses and entrepreneurs capitalise on economic opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.

Innovus is said to form a key part of the plan, connecting individuals and SME’s who have ideas with end users, support and funding.

The business case for such a programme is founded on the success of the National Nuclear Laboratory and Manchester University, who both run similar technology commercialisation programmes.

David Jones, head of projects, Energy & Business Support said the programme wants to develop West Cumbria as a ‘hot-bed for innovation across a wide spectrum of industries, in particular in energy.’

One geographical area open to companies wanting to exploit energy resources is the UK continental shelf (UKCS) where investment increased to £11.4bn to 2012 and is expected to rise to at least £13bn in 2013. 

These encouraging figures from Oil & Gas UK’s 2013 Activity Survey are attributed in part to changes in the tax regime.

Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, believes targeted tax allowances to promote the development of difficult projects, along with a government commitment to provide certainty on decommissioning tax relief, has prompted oil and gas companies to reassess the UK.

The good news is tempered by the view that reserves going into production are not being replaced with new discoveries.

Oil & Gas UK say that while sanctioned reserves rose at the start of 2013 to 7.4 billion boe (barrel of oil equivalent), the highest level for six years, the total reserves on companies’ plans fell by half a billion boe.

Click here for more from The Engineer on how a new investment boom in Britain’s oil and gas industry could help reverse some of its recent decline.