Greenhouse Pioneer: Stephen Irish, Hyperdrive Innovation

Stephen Irish co-founded Hyperdrive Innovation, dedicated development and manufacturing facility for high performance energy systems that provides solutions to complex, challenging applications for electric and hybrid electric powertrains, and battery energy storage.

Stephen is an experienced engineer with a passion for technology having worked in automotive supply chain companies, OEMs and engineering consultancies he also wrote his degree thesis on electric and hybrid vehicle technology almost 20 years ago.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Hyperdrive Innovation – what’s your mission? 

Hyperdrive Innovation is an Electric Vehicle and Battery Energy Storage technology and manufacturing company with global ambition.

What drives you? 

Delivering new technology to market and seeing customers utilizing our products.

Driverless passenger shuttle powered by Hyperdrive batteries

Driverless passenger shuttle powered by Hyperdrive batteries

What is your greatest achievement to date? 

Starting Hyperdrive and a family at the same time!

What are the challenges you face?

Hyperdrive has moved from a ‘startup’ to a ‘scale-up’ quickly in a market with huge potential, so we’ve had to work hard to put the structure in place and maintain the innovative core of what we do. As the business grows, picking which opportunities to focus on can be challenging but it seems we’ve chosen some good ones up to now.

What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

We’ve recently became the first company in the world to secure the supply of Nissan’s LEAF lithium-ion battery technology for our own commercial products.

This leads to all sorts of electric vehicles that can be used in places where internal combustion engines can’t be; factory robots, street sweepers, airport equipment and excavators to name a few.

Recently the interest in the use of our technology in energy storage systems has been very exciting and I think we’re on the edge of some really big changes in the way in which we generate, store and distribute electricity.

Where do you want to take Hyperdrive Innovation next? 

We are right at the forefront of the disruptive technology market as we expand into exciting new realms and grow as a business. Hyperdrive has its own momentum now, with clear direction and the huge effort put in by the staff, management team and continued support of our investors who shared our vision from the start, continue to drive it forwards.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

I think we need to take responsibility for what we do with our energy.  Thinking how we can practically reduce fossil fuel consumption and reduce CO2 emissions and particulates, specifically in highly populated areas, is going to be crucial. A longer-term view of investment in energy infrastructure is critical, for example, if the Government invested in a tidal lagoon, which is important but obviously not going to give immediate payback.

How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

Trying to convey our own enthusiasm for our own mission; we want to deliver new technology in a sustainable, growing business.

Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers? 

Touching the Void – Joe Simpson’s account of his fall during a mountaineering expedition in the Peruvian Andes during the mid ‘80s. It has a pivotal, life-changing moment for the climbing partners where Simon Yates is forced to cut the rope that joins the climbers together and Simpson drops into a crevasse. Simpson crawled for three days over five miles back to their base camp just before the rest of the party leave, believing that he was dead. It’s a compelling adventure story that’s become part of mountaineering folklore.

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

Radio 6 is a big favorite and we have all sorts playing on shuffle on our Sonos system, our kids love the Beastie Boys and our two-year-old beats out the intro to Thunderstruck by AC/DC in perfect time.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Every ‘no’ takes you closer to a ‘yes’.

Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero? 

William Armstrong; archetypal innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The son of a grain merchant he trained as a lawyer but became a highly successful industrialist and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. Armstrong built Cragside in Northumberland in the UK, which aside from planting seven million trees in its grounds was the first ever hydro-electric powered house and contained many other innovative features that were captivating to me as a child when I first visited.

As well as some truly innovative steps in power generation and his manufacture of armament for ships, he was the founder of Newcastle University a key research collaborator of Hyperdrive’s.

Armstrong left a substantial legacy, including a generous donation to build the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where both of my children were born, so I feel I have a lot to thank him for!

Working for change

Greenhouse has worked alongside change-makers in the energy storage sector such as Moixa, as well as pioneers in the Transport sector such as River Simple and CNG Fuels. To see more interviews with pioneers from the sustainability and renewable sectors, head over to our blog.