Stuart Speake of Soltropy Limited was awarded “Inventor of the Year” at the third annual Made in Scotland Awards.
Leading inventors, exporters and innovators from across Scotland attended the Scottish Business Insider and the University of Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre Made in Scotland Awards at Glasgow's Science Centre on April 26. TV presenter Sarah Heaney hosted the event which had an audience of over 250 people.
Stuart, the founder of Soltropy, a Scottish start-up and Heriot-Watt’s renewable energy research partner, had the idea for a system of solar panels where the cost of the main components is reduced or eliminated, and founded his company to develop and exploit the idea.
Heriot-Watt' Dr Tadhg O'Donovan has been working with Stuart and the Soltropy team through an InnovateUK project to develop their solar technology including solar testing in both the Dubai and Edinburgh campuses. Over several years, the University’s Energy Academy has been working with Soltropy to develop new and patented technology that allows the system to freeze without damage.
"without Tadhg's enthusiasm for all things Solar at Heriot-Watt I could still be in the garden shed" Stuart Speake
Installing solar thermal panels into a mainstream heating system has previously required the use of anti-freeze and installation of a new hot water cylinder with a heat exchanger. This is expensive and disruptive, the system requires regular maintenance and is liable to fail if leakage occurs. The new system developed by Soltropy is modular, unaffected by freezing, does not need antifreeze, needs minimal maintenance and importantly for the end-user, is affordable. Soltropy estimate that the cost of installation could be as low as half the cost of existing solutions as its simplified design uses high-tech materials and mass-produced components as well as using the existing hot water tank, drastically reducing cost.
This latest accolade joins Soltropy and Heriot-Watt’s Sustained Partnership Award in the 2016 Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards organised by Interface, for a partnership that demonstrated long term benefits to both the business and the academic teams.
Robert Goodfellow, Head of Business Development, said: “Many congratulations to Stuart, this is very well-deserved and thanks also to Dr Tadhg O’Donovan and the Energy Academy’s Patrick McCarthy who have worked closely with Soltropy to develop this innovative and productive partnership.”