Husband and wife eye rollout of solar-powered bikes

A north-east husband and wife team hopes to roll out a fleet of solar-powered bikes, creating jobs for ex-offenders in the process.

Ken and Janet Hoskins expect the assembly and maintenance of their bikes and charging stations to create “inclusive employment opportunities”, particularly for those who have fallen on hard times.

They are now seeking additional investment to help them launch the kit in the UK as early as 2022, and overseas a year later.

Mr and Mrs Hoskins hope to raise total seed funding of £300,000 in exchange for a 5-10% equity share, with a minimum investment sum of £30,000 per investor.

Frisco Projects, their firm, has already invested about £250,000 in the initiative.

The prototype designs are more than half complete and an intellectual property audit has been completed by patent attorney Marks and Clerk.

Frisco’s e-Bikes would be wirelessly recharged at docking stations with solar panels.

These panels would provide enough power to exceed demand, even in winter, so there would be no need to hook the docks up to the electricity grid.

It means they can be set up in a wide range of locations with minimal infrastructure and management.

Mr and Mrs Hoskins believe the solar-powered bikes would be ideal for city-centre public hire and commuting.

To date, they have worked with the Aberdeen and Strathclyde universities, and taken part in Dundee’s Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc (MSIP) business accelerator programme.

If all goes to plan, 15,000 of their bikes will have been rolled out globally by 2026.

Frisco said the prototypes are “due to be built in Scotland” and that kit assembly and maintenance would take place “as close to end locations as possible”.

For a city the size of Aberdeen, Frisco would anticipate “a minimum” of 500 e-Bikes being deployed, which would require a team of about 10 people.

Mr Hoskins is a chartered engineer who has held senior roles at large energy sector employers like Wood and Worley.

He said: “Operating the business in a holistic, inclusive way is our primary founding principal and sustainability lies at the heart of everything we do, from using green energy sources to power the bikes and empowering people through employment to creating an opportunity to give back to those facing times of hardship.”

Mrs Hoskins has worked for a number of organisations, including multinationals, a council and the NHS.

She said: “It is our intention that our key drivers – profit, people, planet – should feed into and from each other in a cyclical way which benefits as many people as possible and has a lasting, positive impact on our planet.”

MSIP innovation director Sarah Petrie said: “It was great to welcome Frisco e-Bikes to the first cohort of the MSIP Accelerator programme.

“We’re excited to see Frisco e-Bikes continue to progress its plans for a new e-bike and solar charging station.

“We will continue to support the company on its business development journey and look forward to hearing more about its future success.”