British Start-Up OX Looks to Clean Up the Cold Chain with Office for Zero Emission Vehicles funding
17th June 2021
The latest financial backing will support its mission to deliver a green mobility-as-a-service platform for the world’s fastest-growing markets.
Fast-paced social impact start-up, OX, has proven successful again, with two further grants awarded by Innovate UK as part of their Transitioning Towards Zero-Emission Vehicles competition, funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. The total project value of the latest grants is £1.1 million and will support OX’s vision to provide clean, affordable transport in emerging markets.
The first grant will see OX develop the “Chilled OX” with their partner Sunswap, a UK-based solar refrigeration start-up. The high power demand for cooling currently prevents refrigerated vehicles from switching to electric power. The Chilled OX is a ground-breaking innovation enabling the global uptake of zero-emission refrigerated vehicles. The project will develop a demountable, solar-powered refrigeration unit for the electric OX truck.
In the UK, this innovation will enable refrigerated transport to adopt electric vehicles and support the supply chain transition to net zero in the food sector. There are an estimated 160,000 small commercial refrigerated vehicles in the UK today which are diesel trucks powered with alternator-driven electrical refrigeration units. Switching these vehicles to electric has the potential to save 2.2 megatonnes of CO2 tailpipe emissions savings per year!
Additionally, OX’s first market, Rwanda, wastes 40% of food produced [World Bank 2020] with the lack of cold chain being a major cause, and it also represents a considerable challenge in COVID vaccine rollouts. The Chilled OX with a demountable refrigerated unit will enable the creation of a full cold chain, even in off-grid areas, avoiding significant investment in cold stores and operation.
The second Transitioning Towards Zero-Emission Vehicles grant awarded will see OX work with their partner Penso Consultancy to develop and demonstrate a UK road-legal variant of the electric OX truck. This will enable the increase in the adoption of small commercial zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the UK agriculture and land-use sectors. Building upon a feasibility study, in which OX found an additional market opportunity in the UK, this project would provide a UK road-legal vehicle for testing and customer demonstration.
Simon Davis, OX’s Managing Director, said:
“The progress OX has made in the last year is truly astonishing and these latest successes now provide us with a fantastic opportunity to explore important global market opportunities through demonstrating innovative technology.
The electric vehicle sector is changing rapidly and represents a huge opportunity to rethink how transport is delivered across the world. This UK government support is enabling OX to take a leading role in this global industry.
Earlier this year I saw firsthand the challenges arising from a lack of cold chain in Rwanda. By enabling a zero-emission, affordable cold chain, this innovation has the potential to transform the productivity of the Rwandan agricultural segment boosting livelihoods. We are really looking forward to working with the Sunswap team to achieve this.
We started pilot operations in Rwanda in March and have had a really positive response and strong from our customers. Our mobility-as-a-service platform is enabling us to provide affordable reliable transport in rural areas. Once we finish our current fundraising round we will be expanding our pilot further.”
This latest news comes as the OX pilot operation in Rwanda has been running for 3 months and proving out the business model assumptions and also in addition to OX being successful in winning three previous grants from Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre. The first electric OX demonstrator will be showcased at CENEX’s Low Carbon Vehicle event in September, the UK’s foremost low carbon vehicle event which will be attended by key stakeholders from industry and Government.