ActiveCell

Introduction of the client

ActiveCell Technologies is a Leeds-based technology start-up created in March 2018. Specialists of 3D printing, they aim to dynamise and broaden 3D printing applications. In the summer of 2020, they released the beta version of a disruptive 3D-printing-as-a-service. Their platform combines intelligent automation and a state-of-the-art printing farm to remove the friction of remote 3D printing. Designers upload their designs on the platform, get an instant quote, and can launch and monitor the printing of their 3D-design in real time.

Challenges

Driven by their need to innovate, ActiveCell sought our support immediately after its creation.  They needed support to monitor funding opportunities and identify the one most relevant to fund their development strategy and become trailblazers in the 3D-printing industry. Further, they needed support to build strong business cases to answer identified opportunities, significant strategic expertise, and support to bring in the right skills.

Our 360 service offered them the right level of support, and started supporting ActiveCell in November 2019.

Our solution

During the initial stages of our support – the discovery phase – our team gained a deep understanding of their technology and strategy. We could provide crucial guidance and identify ideal funding targets. Our analysis showed they were too early in their development to successfully apply on their own to Innovate UK’s flagship program SMART. Thus, we focussed on supporting them to structure their innovation pathway and helped them build the right connections to complement their expertise.

Then, the COVID-19 crisis hit. ActiveCell quickly pivoted to mass-produce parts for PPE, and we had an opportunity to shape a new strategy fitted to the situation. 

In April 2020, the government asked Innovate UK to deliver £750 million in investment and support to UK businesses to drive innovation responding to the challenges caused by the  pandemic.

The Innovate UK competition Business-led innovation in response to global disruption represented the perfect funding opportunity to kickstart ActiveCell’s ambitious project Florence: creating a solution to rapidly mass-produce custom fitted face masks. 

Once we validated that the project fitted the long term research and development strategy of the company, we put together a strong application and secured £50,000 in June 2020. By September 2020, having made significant progress towards the delivery of their innovative service, they were offered the opportunity to bid for a 3-month extension of their project to increase its impact. We helped them build their case and won an additional £25,000 to push their first prototype to the market.

Meanwhile, we provided ActiveCell with crucial contacts in major national CROs and helped them structuring a consortium for future ambitious projects within the scope of Innovate UK SMART.Towards the end of 2020, Innovate UK launched a series of competitions to contribute in attaining the targets set out within the UK Plastic Pact. We explored with ActiveCell the possibility to develop a 3D-printing-based solution and we helped them build a project answering the ISCF Future Plastic Packaging Solutions competition in January 2021. The application is still awaiting results at this point in time.

Conclusion

We  provided valuable support in ActiveCell’s innovation journey during a full year. This allowed us to secure funding, enabling them to launch disruptive technology answering the COVID-19 crisis. We helped them keep at the forefront of innovation and to address the current needs of the markets and of society. They have thus renewed their contract for an additional year of support.

“DRIAD was the perfect sounding board to validate our funding options.”

“When the health crisis hit, ActiveCell pivoted to respond to COVID-19, and DRIAD’s support in highlighting new funding possibilities in line with our new direction was crucial.”

“DRIAD helped us to formulate our business case accompanying applications, and the whole process of writing a grant with their help, allowing us to focus more on the business specifics.”

“DRIAD was the perfect sounding board to validate our funding options. When the health crisis hit, ActiveCell pivoted to respond to COVID-19, and DRIAD’s support in highlighting new funding possibilities in line with our new direction was crucial. DRIAD helped us to formulate our business case accompanying applications, and the whole process of writing a grant with their help, allowing us to focus more on the business specifics.”

Steve Hammond

CTO and Co-founder, ActiveCell Technologies