has reached the finals of the prestigious Lord Stafford Awards.
Leamington Spa-based Caparo AP Braking, which developed the RightFuel device in collaboration with the University, has been shortlisted in the Achievement Through Innovation category of this year’s awards.
The Lord Stafford Awards aim to showcase and celebrate the very best in innovation and collaboration between universities and business.
Caparo RightFuel is a retrofit product, which is installed as a direct replacement for a vehicle’s existing fuel filler cap. When a diesel pump nozzle is inserted into the vehicle’s fuel tank, a physical barrier swings out of the way allowing diesel to be added. The product can distinguish between petrol and diesel fuelling nozzles and will not open when the smaller diameter petrol nozzle is inserted, therefore preventing the wrong fuel being added to the vehicle.
The product was originally invented by Martin White, who collaborated with the Caparo Innovation Centre at the University to develop and license the patented rights for the device. The intellectual property rights were licensed to Caparo AP Braking in 2008 and the firm went on to invest £100,000 in the production and marketing of the device under the brand name RightFuel.
The RightFuel device has been well received by the market, last year scooping a double gold at the British Invention of the Year Awards.
Henry Sarel-Cooke, Caparo AP Braking’s Sales and Marketing Director, said: “Winning such a prestigious award would considerably raise the company’s profile and acknowledge innovation in UK manufacturing.
“Around 150,000 drivers a year in the UK accidentally fill their diesel vehicles with petrol and the cost to the vehicle owner can range between £150 and £10,000.
“This means the total cost of misfuelling per annum is around £750 million and the cost is normally borne by the driver of the vehicle as insurers rarely accept liability.
“RightFuel is therefore a relatively low-cost solution to a potentially expensive mistake and is quickly being accepted as the most effective means of safeguarding against misfuelling.”
Lord Stafford, Patron of the Awards and Chair of the Judging Panel, said: “This is an excellent example of a relatively straightforward innovation which could have a big impact very quickly on everyday life.
“In addition to the £750 million cost each year, misfuelling causes significant problems in terms of blockages at forecourts at service stations and inconvenience for those who misfuel.
“This is an excellent entry which has been made possible as a result of an excellent collaboration between the company and the University of Wolverhampton which is exactly what the Lord Stafford Awards seeks to showcase.”
The winners of the 2009 Lord Stafford Awards will be announced at a gala dinner at Gaydon Heritage Motor Museum on Thursday November 12.
With around 10 million diesel vehicles on the UK’s roads and millions more internationally, both Caparo and the University of Wolverhampton quickly recognised the huge aftersales market.
The University therefore committed significant resources to the project, in return for a licence of the technology and a royalty on sales. This type of agreement is a very effective way of ensuring that product research and development is carried out to maximise commercial opportunities.
Caparo AP Braking, which employs 140 people and has an annual turnover of around £11m, is now focused on maximising sales growth and is continuing to collaborate with the university on product development.
The Caparo Innovation Centre was established at the beginning of 2003 as collaboration between Caparo plc and the UoW.
Based at Wolverhampton Science Park, the centre is staffed by a team of product and business development professionals specialising in a range of engineering, marketing, design and business skills.
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