May 22, 2011 10:44 pm

Chief aims to power up NGenTec

NGenTec, an Edinburgh University spin-out that hopes to transform the wind energy market through its generator technology, has appointed a chief executive with an international track record.

Makhlouf Benatmane has joined the Edinburgh-based company from Converteam, a France-based specialist in power conversion, where he was a director in charge of its wind and renewable sector. GE recently paid $3.3bn (£2bn) for a 90 per cent stake in Converteam.

NGenTec aims to become the preferred supplier of direct drive permanent magnet generators to the wind energy market. The company claims generators made using its technology are lighter and are easier to manufacture and assemble than competing systems.

Having secured more than £3m in funding, NGenTec recently signed a partnership with David Brown Gear Systems, the engineering company owned by Glasgow-based Clyde Blowers which aims to bring the first products to market by 2013 in advance of large UK offshore wind deployments expected in 2015.

David Brown is expected to inject expertise worth up to £1m into product development, in exchange for an equity stake.

Mr Benatmane said he had been attracted to NGenTec’s technology by its performance, ease of manufacture and potential market share. “The company has already started talks with potential customers with several leading wind turbine companies showing interest in NGenTec’s technology,” he said.

NGenTec is expected to seek up to £12m of further funding later this year, depending on the timing of firm orders.

Mr Benatmane said NGenTec still had only 12 employees, though it could draw on expertise from David Brown. But he said the company planned to increase its workforce to about 20 this year.

Jim McColl, chairman of Clyde Blowers, said at the time of the David Brown deal that he was pleased to support a Scotland-based engineering company that was targeting the high growth wind sector.

“Industrial partnerships like this can bring home-grown technology to market more quickly and can create the next generation of high-value manufacturing companies in the UK and globally,” he said.

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