CRL offers help to tech start-ups

The Central Research Laboratory (CRL) has launched its latest applications process for technology hardware start-up businesses.

Based at The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, Middlesex, the UK initiative will see up to 12 chosen start-ups entering the CRL’s nine-month programme, which begins in September.

Details of entry criteria and how to apply are available here. Each of the companies will receive fully-funded access to high-end prototyping labs, a 24/7 workspace, a £5,000 living costs grant and expert help with commercial and product development.

In return, the CRL will receive a six per cent stake in each company.

To date, the CRL has worked with technologists, designers, musicians, physicists, biologists and toymakers, helping them to develop the skills and knowledge needed to turn a start-up into a scalable business.

Said James Nettleton, programme director at CRL: “Taking a physical product from concept to prototype, to final production, and then to market is a challenging journey for any business. In recent years, we’ve seen incredible developments around rapid prototyping technology and the ability to pre-sell products via crowd-funding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

CRL - James Nettleton WEB
James Nettleton

“But all too often, skilled founders with great products aren’t able to take them to market – not because the idea or team isn’t good enough, but because they lack the manufacturing expertise, seed funding, contacts or facilities to make it happen. That’s where the CRL programme comes in. We’re attracting the best hardware start-ups in Europe, and we’re offering the workspace, facilities, access to investment and expertise they need to grow.”

He added: “Over the last year, we’ve worked with a really diverse group of companies, developing products ranging from submarine drones to robotic gloves, digital drawing systems and modular walking aids. Through the programme, each of the companies has evolved in its own unique way. Some have actually redefined their product offer, others have determined completely new audiences, routes to market, manufacturing processes and business models.”

He adds: “Our job at the CRL is to facilitate the start-up’s journey by providing the tools, knowledge and industry experience to give them the best chance to scale.

“These are the start-ups that have the potential to unleash the power of the Internet of Things, make our cities more connected, create new virtual reality environments and develop new wearable devices.”