Imperial College spinout Honeycomb Network bags $170K pre-seed funding to develop smart charging and storage infrastructure for e-scooters and e-bikes in the UK
Imagine you want to go on a long ride on your electric scooter but are unsure of how long the battery charge will last. This is one of many challenges facing users of e-scooters around the world–getting enough juice to your destination and back. The situation is no different in the UK.
Despite more than 65 percent of trips made in London being shorter than one mile, and despite car driver and passenger trips having reduced by 33 percent and 44 percent respectively, users of e-scooters and e-bikes still face significant challenges moving around the city – specifically when it comes to storing and charging their vehicles. And that’s why this new tech startup is developing smart charging and storage infrastructure for e-scooters and e-bikes which aims to accelerate micromobility adoption in the UK.
Enter Honeycomb Network, an Imperial College London spinout that provides safe, high-quality storage pods equipped with intelligent charging units that both securely store micromobility vehicles and extend battery lifespan, therefore reducing electronic waste.
Today, Honeycomb announced it has secured $170,000 (£127,000) in pre-seed funding to support the development of prototypes of the company’s storage and charging pods and rollout of a pilot scheme. The round was led by SFC Capital, the UK’s most active seed stage investor.
Founded this year by CEO Gabriel Yoong, Cameron Brown (CTO), Maysa Abadi (COO), and William Cox (CFO), Honeycomb is developing secure locker pods for storing and charging electric scooters. The company’s technology combines secure storage for e-scooters and e-bikes with smart charging to solve big-city mobility challenges and reduce e-waste. Honeycomb has also partnered with businesses and organizations to make its pods available in offices, universities, supermarkets, gyms, retail stores and transport hubs.
“We want to take the stress out of e-scooter travel! Riders shouldn’t fear of having their vehicles stolen, and likewise, they should trust that their scooter has enough battery to take them wherever they want to go!,” the company said on its website.
In addition, Honeycomb’s built-in smart charging and battery diagnostics systems aim to extend battery longevity and reduce waste. Micromobility has the potential to revolutionize urban travel and Honeycomb’s vision is to develop a network of storage and charging infrastructure to support the rise in demand for micromobility, improve urban transport connectivity and accelerate the transition to net-zero.
Honeycomb provides safe, high-quality storage pods equipped with intelligent charging units that both securely store micromobility vehicles and extend the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries – and therefore reduce electronic waste – by allowing for fine-tuned remote control of the charging cycle. Given that the battery of e-scooters and e-bikes can account for as much as one-third of the total cost of an e-scooter or e-bike, having healthy and longer-lasting batteries can prevent any need for premature battery replacement and save users unnecessary cost.
Honeycomb’s charging pods can be assembled in different configurations to suit the environment where they are placed, making them easy for businesses and local authorities to integrate into any space. Honeycomb Network’s mobile app shows users pod cluster locations and capacity, and also enables them to see and control charging speed and to lock and unlock the pod. Pods are equipped with multiple charging ports for different e-scooter and e-bike brands, so users don’t need to bring their own cables.
Gabriel Yoong, co-founder and CEO of Honeycomb Network, said: “Honeycomb’s vision is to establish a network of storage and charging infrastructure to support micromobility in big metropolises like London. People’s habits and transport choices are changing, and with them so should cities and their infrastructure. We are also trying to bridge the gap between academics working to optimize battery life and companies selling the technology. By merging both sides’ knowledge, we can not only make batteries healthier and more efficient, we also prevent additional amounts of unnecessary electronic waste from being generated.”
Honeycomb Network is the only e-scooter-infrastructure company to receive grant funding from the UK Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles in 2021. It is also participating in the Centre for Climate Change Innovation’s Greenhouse Accelerator program, and has secured interest in its smart micromobility network from several companies, including Argent LLP and Dash Rides.
In a statement, Adam Beveridge, Investment Associate at SFC Capital, said: “As we move towards smarter cities, with improved transport and mobility, it’s inevitable that private e-scooters will have their part to play as a genuine, sustainable solution to longer journeys and purposeful travel. With around 500,000 private e-scooter models being sold in the UK in 2020, and a nationwide rollout of numerous e-scooter rental trials, Honeycomb Network represented a timely investment opportunity to get ahead in a market yet to boom, with a product that will be key to the success of the e-scooter ecosystem.”