Warwick Audio

Warwick Audio has created and patented a new type of electrostatic laminate technology for headphones and loudspeakers to revolutionise the in-car audio experience.

Warwick Audio completed its latest SyndicateRoom round in July 2017, overfunding to £2,131,030. The company’s first round in October 2016 surpassed its funding target of £1m.

The story

The earphones and headphones market, which includes dynamic, planar, and electrostatic headphone technology, has had several technological advancements in terms of sound quality, performance, and design in recent years. This market was estimated to be worth approximately $20bn in 2016 according to Global Market Insights and is set to reach $25bn by 2024. In parallel, the automotive audio market is estimated by Warwick Audio Technologies to be worth approximately $3.5bn per annum.

Warwick Audio specialises in the development of High Precision Electrostatic Laminate audio transducers (HPELs) for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive and headphone market segments. Warwick’s technology enables brand customers to create products that offer High-Resolution audio reproduction whilst being able to facilitate innovative design, be it improving the quality of the audio experience beyond what is possible at a given price point, and/or creating more space in vehicle cabins through thinner and lighter designs. The HPEL concept was initially developed by Dr. Duncan Billson and Prof. David Hutchins at the University of Warwick, School of Engineering, after which Warwick Audio spun out from the university.

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Most players in those markets traditionally use dynamic coil technology for their speakers. Whilst these are cheap and simple to make, they can be heavy and deliver relatively poor audio quality with high levels of distortion. Electrostatic headphones represent a small niche within the premium headphones market and are known to deliver much higher audio quality, although the traditional electrostatic headphones design can still be heavy, inefficient, and expensive.

The company has pioneered a new generation of electrostatic speakers, which are recognised for creating a much better quality of sound than conventional speakers. Warwick Audio is aiming to use funds raised for inventory purchases, core technology development, prototyping, and marketing, as well as management and legal costs.

Mike Grant, Executive Chairman of Warwick Audio, is a highly experienced technology business leader who has created several successful global technology businesses. With a focus on strategy, product innovation, and market economics, he has created shareholder value by successfully bridging the divide between customer need and technology development. Mike has built businesses that have led to the rollout of mobile broadband in Europe and Asia, the introduction of 3D graphics into the mobile industry, and the creation of one of the world’s leading mobile game publishers. Over the last 5 years, Mike has generated over $600m in incremental value for shareholders, primarily through the turnaround of Myriad Group AG. Mike works full time with Warwick Audio.

The lead investor

Mercia Technologies Plc is a national investment group focused on creation and development of innovative technology businesses that are rich in intellectual property, show high growth potential, and are based in the UK. Mercia leverages expertise across a wide number of sectors, including: digital and digital entertainment, software and the internet, life sciences and bio-sciences, electronics, materials and manufacturing, and engineering.

Mercia has a portfolio of more than 20 direct investments and more than £336.5m of third party-managed funds with a technology portfolio of approximately 150 third party investments. In addition to raising £70m on AIM in 2014, Mercia raised a further £40m in January 2017. Approximately one third of Mercia’s investments are sourced from university spinouts, with the remaining investments sourced from the Investment Team’s personal networks.

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