Cleantech Disruptors - An interview with Tadashi Kubo, Co-Founder & CEO of AC Biode
Cleantech Disruptors is a series of interviews showcasing innovative cleantech startups, who through the development of disruptive technologies are changing the future.
AC Biode is an innovation energy storage and mobility focused tech start-up based in Cambridge, Luxembourg and Kyoto / Tokyo. They are currently developing the world’s first AC battery, have been recognised as one of the EUSP Top 50 mobility start-ups, and are backed by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT InnoEnergy).
I had the pleasure of chatting to Tadashi Kubo, Co-Founder and CEO of AC Biode about their 2 products, the inspiration behind them, the challenges they’ve faced along the way and how they plan to disrupt both the mobility & energy storage industries. Tadashi has had a wonderfully varied career taking him all over the world; Japan, Angola, Brazil, UK and now Luxembourg!
So, AC Biode is doing some revolutionary work in the battery space, can you tell us a bit more about it?
Yes, of course! AC Biode is a company of 5 people focused on developing the world’s first standalone AC batt for mobility and energy storage.
What’s the history behind AC Biode?
I used to work in trading and investment in Japan, focusing on batteries, energy, petrochemicals and mobility, and my Co-Founder, the CTO, was a Researcher at a Japanese university and is based in Kyoto. We are both very passionate about contributing to the environment and tackling climate change. Given my personal interest in start-ups, I decided to take an MBA in Cambridge and then 2 years ago I decided to take a risk and start the company. I am very lucky that I’d met my Co-Founder as without the technology, it would just be an idea!
Where did the inspiration come from?
The inspiration for the company came from a conversation about why we don’t have AC batteries, when they would make so much sense! This led to us trying to make new materials for batteries, which failed, but led us to where we are now; using existing materials but for AC rather than DC batteries, and it worked!
By Q2 next year we hope to be doing a pilot test with drones. They will have an extra 30% capacity, which when you consider drones making deliveries currently have to recharge approximately every 30 minutes, it will make a significant difference to how long they can stay in the air and how efficient the business model is.
After drones, we will be piloting e-bikes and e-scooters, and then moving into energy storage by 2022, which is an obvious move since wind power actually generates AC power! By 2023 we hope to be in the EV market and see this as an incredible opportunity.
In what way is AC Biode a disruptor?
We are disrupting both the mobility and the energy storage industries through disrupting the battery industry. Lots of mobility solutions use AC current for their motors, so it makes much more sense to have AC batteries to supply them.
What challenges have you faced?
The infrastructure is a huge challenge for us. The current infrastructure in this space is all made for DC batteries and not AC, and it wouldn’t make sense to change everything, at least not straight away. That’s why we will initially focus on specific niches — drones, flying cars, regenerative brakes and fixed routes.
If we consider the automotive industry, it takes a long time to change peoples thinking in order to change the system — this is a very big non-technical change but one which will take time to be adopted.
Let’s talk about the team…
We have a brilliantly diverse team; we are 5 people from 4 countries! I believe diversity and balance are both key to successful businesses. We are based in different countries and all have very different roles in the company but work as one when it comes to developing the product and driving the business.
Can you tell us about the other side of the business? The Chemical Catalyst
Yes, we have 2 different projects within AC Biode; alongside the batteries, we have a chemical catalyst solution to tackle ocean plastic waste, named Plastalyst. Our CTO has a material science degree which can be applied to both batteries and chemicals. We actually launched in February and our first customer is a Japanese food company who use it the recycle mixed waste (food and plastic) onsite, entirely avoiding the need to ship waste! We aim to change the recycling process and believe that it can have a huge impact on climate change. It has recently been recognised as one of the ‘Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions’.
Connect with us and learn more about brightsmith and AC Biode 🍃