New Drone Driven by ‘Potential Game Changer’ Solar Tech

From the Outset: Daisy Lab by Melissa Grey from DMG Digital Advertising

Potential game changer

The following includes excerpts from Kim Baker Wilson, 1 News

From a distance it looks almost like any other drone. But a large black panel on a prototype developed by an Auckland startup makes this one a little different, in a big way.

“We’re one of the few companies in the world to deliver this technology for light-based energy transmission,” said Aquila CEO and co-founder William Jeremijenko.

It’s light that is invisible to the eye.

But they’re using it to charge the drone while it flies, opening the doors for a raft of possibilities in the future.

“You can imagine having this on agricultural sites or mining sites where you’ve got a lot of moving platforms,” Jeremijenko told 1News.

“They need an energy source and you can have that energy supplied continuously by beams of light.”

The ultimate goal, as he puts it, is to make an “internet of energy” – a network of satellites to send power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed.

Eventually they hope to send the power to electric planes flying internationally.

“So with this directed energy capability you can all of a sudden create these networks that can serve any imaginable application,” Jeremijenko said.

And the hope is it can be done within a decade, helped along by AUD$3 million (NZ$3.2 million) recently secured in funding.

Their solution involves a “lighthouse” module that can direct a beam of light to a receiver, in this case on the prototype drone.

The receiver is in effect a specialised solar panel that can work with the specialised light. It can deliver more than what solar can.

“So think of autonomous aerial vehicles, or boats, or submarines just staying forever, that’s the goal,” fellow co-founder Nelson Smith said.

“The biggest reasons we can’t transition to renewables is electrical propulsion just isn’t good enough yet.

“However if we can charge things mid-flight suddenly all those barriers just evaporate.”

The team is working to make safety a key part of the whole design.

“For me to put it in front of people, it has to be safe… we have to be so confident that it’s not even going to hurt a bird, let alone a person,” said Smith. “And it’s working beautifully so far.”

7 August 2023


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What inspired the creation of Daisy Lab?

“Daisy Lab is probably a product of frustration rather than inspiration. Both Nikki and I (Irina) were frustrated with the status quo in the dairy industry and saw precision fermentation as a better solution.”

What is precision fermentation?

“Precision fermentation involves giving microbes extra genetic instructions to produce desired compounds, such as dairy-identical proteins, in controlled conditions.”

What is Daisy Lab's main focus?

“Our focus is on making dairy-identical proteins without cows using microbes through precision fermentation.”

What were the initial challenges Daisy Lab faced?

“Early on, we faced challenges like securing contracts with universities, finding suitable students, and deciding on the best organisms for our research.”

What backgrounds do the founders of Daisy Lab come from?

“My background is in business consulting and bioinformatics, which, combined with Nikki’s qualifications and expertise in Molecular biology, Microbiology, Nanopore and Illumina sequencing – brings a diverse skill set to Daisy Lab.”


What makes developing dairy-identical proteins using microbes challenging?

“The challenges include selecting the right microbes, ensuring the genetic instructions are correctly incorporated, and overcoming protein processing limitations.”

How does Daisy Lab's technology compare to other alternatives in the market?

“While direct comparisons are challenging, we’ve made significant progress in scaling yields and developing a clean fermentation process that simplifies downstream processing.”

How does Daisy Lab ensure product quality and consistency?

“We replicate the same processes to ensure consistency, with our end-to-end processing showing consistent results.”

What is Daisy Lab's strategy for market integration?

“Our strategy involves education, collaboration, and showcasing our products’ environmental and ethical benefits to appeal to consumers and partners.”

How does Daisy Lab plan to scale up and expand its market reach?

“Scaling up is challenging, but we plan to leverage our novel qualities, such as reduced emissions and ethical production, to engage the market effectively.”

What is the anticipated timeline for Daisy Lab's market entry?

“We anticipate market entry through IP partnerships within 18 to 24 months, depending on our development progress and the establishment of a pilot plant.”

How has Outset Ventures supported Daisy Lab?

“Outset Ventures has been instrumental, especially in facilitating the expansion of our lab space, which significantly accelerated our R&D efforts.”

What makes Daisy Lab an attractive investment opportunity?

“Daisy Lab offers solid technology, a proven track record, capital efficiency, and significant market potential in sustainable food production.”

What are Daisy Lab's short-term and long-term objectives?

“In the short term, we’re focusing on product development and fundraising. Long-term, we aim to scale our technology for broader market distribution.”

How does Daisy Lab maintain a competitive edge?

“We maintain our edge by continuously innovating, focusing on capital efficiency, and quickly adapting to market and technological advancements.”

What has been the most rewarding experience for you at Daisy Lab?

“Reflecting on our journey and realizing the significant impact we’ve managed to achieve has been incredibly rewarding for me personally.”

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs in tech or sustainability?

“My advice is to pursue your passion for the end goal. This passion will guide you through challenges and help you exceed expectations.”