COP26: EIC's Supply Chain Case Study Series - TP Group (Day 10)

COP26: EIC's Supply Chain Case Study Series - TP Group (Day 10)

10 Nov 2021

The EIC's Supply Chain Case Study Series highlights key EIC Survive and Thrive Insight Report case studies all throughout COP26, highlighting the success stories of the energy sector in decarbonisation and innovative new energy transition technologies.

On Day 10 we look at how TP Group gained traction in the UK rail sector.

How is tpgroup thriving?

tpgroup is a company unwilling to stand still. With a history of supplying submarines with key carbon capture, electrolyser and fuel cell technologies, the firm has successfully diversified to win its first rail sector contract, applying 50 years’ experience to deliver hydrogen fuel solutions.

The challenge

For many companies, diversification can often be the difference between long-term sustainability and short-term success, scalability and stagnancy, even survival and collapse. While one successful business model, product, service or innovation might work today, there is every chance of it being superseded by the next great idea tomorrow.

tpgroup’s survive and thrive story is an exemplary one that demonstrates the benefits of proactive diversification.

Prior to 2017, the organisation was an established name serving the space and defence markets with bespoke engineering, consultancy and digital advisory services. One of its specialties was, and remains, the development and supply of cutting-edge atmosphere systems for submarines, its expertise in this domain spanning more than half a century. It is a business that provides tpgroup with a consistent and stable income owing to its high market share.

This was the challenge for tpgroup – with a steady submarine market sector, how could it leverage its market leading capabilities and technologies in new ways to avoid complacency and keep the business moving forward?

The solution

This key question came to the fore in 2017. Through market analysis, tpgroup recognised conversations surrounding energy transition and hydrogen technologies were beginning to spread like wildfire, and that its submarine expertise in carbon capture, electrolyser and fuel cell technologies could bring tremendous value to the table.

The potential was clear, but so were the risks in 2017. Following further market research and analysis of established players, it was agreed that early entry would be unwise owing to stiff core competition and limited immediate opportunities. Yet, a review in 2019 quickly reinvigorated conversations.

Clean energy had begun to embark on a steep growth curve global climate targets and the UK government’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The firm engaged its clients, partners, trade associations and cluster groups and deployed a ‘tiger team’ headed up by Group Technology & Innovation Director Jon Constable that focused on engineering and bid writing – technicalities that would enable it to more effectively seek out potential contracts.

By 2020, tpgroup had finalised a go-launch plan. It had spotted a gap in the rail market thanks to the appointment of key consultant, Kathryn Clamp.

Rail is a sensitive industry with intense regulatory scrutiny, where highly vetted, reliable and safe systems are of paramount importance. Indeed, with 50 years’ commercial experience commercial experience that has involved working closely with the government to deliver electrolysers for complex projects and safety critical applications in tpgroup’s life support systems division, the company had the extensive track record needed to succeed in such a sector with the right approach.

For tpgroup, this manifested itself in strong partnerships with key entities including the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, rail industry bodies, and MAKE UK – organisations with vital experience that could support its ambitions.

Fast forward to 2021, and this approach has proved to be vital.

tpgroup has secured its first contract to develop hydrogen fueling systems for a UK locomotive business, the company’s ethos of evaluating the bespoke needs of each project having served to delight its new client thanks to emphasis on solving its specific problems.

While the client had already committed to building a hydrogen-powered train using an electrolyser, there was an additional opportunity to support the integration of motive force fuel cells. Here, tpgroup is acting as a consultant, helping the client to select appropriate assets and associated technologies to best shape the overall solution.

Set to be concluded later in 2021, the significant contract award marks a valuable first foot on the rungs of the energy transition ladder.

Indeed, the company’s drive for diversification hasn’t been without its challenges. A legacy embedded in the defence industry has seen it struggle to shake certain stereotypes such as high prices, long delivery times and a lack of experience, while the coronavirus pandemic has impacted its ability to get initial conversations off the ground and build momentum.

Yet much optimism can be taken from the progress that has been made in such a short space of time.

As of now, the firm is well ahead of its five-year success plan in the energy domain, with a pipeline of five potential contracts on the horizon and overwhelmingly positive feedback to date from prospects and its latest client company alike.

Is it a survive and thrive success story? With establishment in a new market, using a new technology application for a new client, undeniably so.

About tpgroup

tpgroup is a global leader in Consulting, Software & Digital solutions and Atmosphere Management Systems across the full lifecycle of defence, space and energy programmes. With world class innovation, expertise and experience, the company employs approximately 450 people in six countries, with customers in more than 30 countries across the three value streams. Within Consulting, the company works in partnership with national government bodies, international institutions and global prime contractors on enterprise transformation, feasibility analysis, system engineering, programme delivery and support. tpgroup’s Software & Digital Solutions segment, meanwhile, involves developing mission and safety critical systems, software tools, artificial intelligence and decision support for autonomous navigation, constellation management, collision avoidance, resource optimisation, intelligence analysis and asset management.

The company’s Bespoke Engineering Solutions domain includes life-support systems in critical workspaces, hydrogen based renewable energy solutions, water purification, rugged electronics for harsh environments and precision engineering of high-integrity equipment. tpgroup works globally with governments, institutions and leading commercial businesses to add value and deliver successful programmes on land, sea, in the air and in space.

Read the full EIC Survive and Thrive Insight Report here.

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