The Sure Chill Company (Tywyn)

Origins

The technology is the brainchild of British inventor Ian Tansley who, with the help of UK Business Angel of the year 2012 Peter Saunders OBE, created the system. It was specifically developed in response to a challenge set by the World Health Organisation where previously vaccine refrigerators in off-grid locations relied on solar power and a rechargeable battery. But these batteries were costly, unreliable and hard to replace in remote locations. If the battery or power failed, vaccines were at risk of being exposed to unsafe storage temperatures. This could ultimately reduce vaccine potency and jeopardise the success of immunisation programmes. This challenge caught the imagination of Ian Tansley who recognised the issue first hand and was deeply motivated to find a solution that could help save lives around the world. His idea began with water and its unique property that would prove to be the inspiration for Sure Chill technology. At four degrees, water is at its heaviest. At four degrees it sinks. At any other temperature it rises. This scientific fact inspired Ian to create a seemingly intelligent cooling system that adapts its temperature naturally so it automatically cools to the optimum temperature: a constant four degrees even without power. As with any new and disruptive technology a major challenge originally faced was scepticism, as the invention challenges conventional thinking. This inevitably delays the speed to market although the company is now overcoming that challenge through its success and pivotal role within the medical sector.

Success Factor

Key milestones that have helped to propel the business forward include being awarded $1.5m by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a vaccine cooler that can keep vaccines safe for 35+ days with no power at all. The cooler will help further the reach of immunization programmes worldwide. The company has also established a strong partnership with UNICEF and in December 2013, in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, vaccine refrigerators with Sure Chill technology were sent to the Philippines to provide vital support for the on-going relief effort. Finally, licence agreements were established in India and South Africa to manufacture vaccine refrigerators with Sure Chill technology.

The Future

The company has aggressive growth plans as it moves from a manufacturing business model to a licensing model. Through licensing, the company will form global alliances with key strategic partners around the world to expedite the route to market for the Sure Chill technology across multiple market sectors and territories. The company is well positioned to take advantage of the surge in demand for vaccine refrigerators in the coming five year period. Whilst in 2015 a new vaccine cooler, developed by the company in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Welsh Government will be launched. The company is also diversifying into other commercial sectors where the Sure Chill technology is equally applicable given it has the ability to provide sustainable and accurate cooling where there is an unreliable power supply; as well as having the ability to significantly reduce energy costs by using electricity when at its cheapest during the day whilst also reducing peak demands on the electricity grid. There are also numerous other opportunities in retail, home refrigeration, agriculture and broader engineering applications and all of which are being explored which offer a great opportunity to grow the business in the coming five year period and beyond.