- UT Austin’s Discovery to Impact program invests $250,000 in Austin-based startup, Group1.
- Group1 specializes in Potassium-ion batteries (KIBs), presenting a sustainable alternative to Lithium-ion batteries.
- The partnership aims to foster innovation in battery technology, reducing dependency on critical minerals.
- Both UT Austin and Group1 have strong research backgrounds and are jointly poised to transform the energy industry.
- The investment will facilitate workforce expansion, production scale-up, and collaborations with major industry players.
Founded in 2021 and based in Austin, Texas, Group1 is a groundbreaking engineered materials company focused on Potassium-ion batteries (KIBs). By leveraging advanced cathode materials, the startup aims to provide a sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective energy storage solution, thereby overcoming the limitations associated with Lithium-ion batteries. Group1’s core product, Kristonite™, enables faster charging, enhanced safety, and higher energy density.
The Investment Landscape
UT Austin’s Discovery to Impact program has invested $250,000 in Group1 as part of their mission to bring research discoveries to the marketplace. This fund is part of UT Austin’s $10 million Seed Fund, managed by Discovery to Impact, dedicated to investing in startups built on university-owned intellectual property.
“This investment in Group1 is a testament to the University’s dedication to expanding research commercialization across campus and leveraging the immense and growing intellectual talent of UT Austin and its affiliates,” said Christine Dixon Thiesing, Associate Vice President of Discovery to Impact.
Why Potassium-ion Batteries?
Conventional Lithium-ion batteries rely on critical minerals like Lithium, Cobalt, Nickel, and Copper. Most of these minerals are sourced from conflict regions or countries undergoing geopolitical unrest. KIBs, on the other hand, provide an alternative that is free of such critical minerals.
“Group1 is pleased with UT Austin’s investment into Group1. It will enable the commercialization of ground-breaking battery technology that reduces U.S. reliance on critical minerals,” said Alex Girau, CEO and Co-founder of Group1 and an Energy Transition Fellow at the Energy Institute.
From Research Lab to Market
Group1 was born out of the research lab of Nobel laureate Professor John Goodenough, famous for many of today’s Lithium-ion battery innovations. This academic heritage forms a robust foundation for Group1, as it inherits a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Leigang Xue, Group1’s Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, invented the core Potassium-ion technology, dubbed Kristonite™, during his time at UT Austin as a Postdoctoral researcher in the Goodenough lab.
Future Roadmap and Industry Impact
Group1 plans to use the investment to expand its workforce, scale up the production of Kristonite™, and establish partnerships with Tier1 cell and automotive manufacturers. As of now, the startup has raised $7.5 million to bring KIB technology to the market.
“As an investor in Group1 and having been a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) for ten years, I believe deeply in this partnership’s potential to transform the U.S battery supply-chain and help solve the looming Lithium shortage,” said Kyle Bass, Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Hayman Capital.
The Austin Advantage
Being based in Austin, a booming tech hub, offers Group1 numerous benefits. From a vibrant innovation ecosystem to a pool of highly-skilled professionals, Austin presents a conducive environment for tech startups. Group1’s increasing affiliation with UT Austin further solidifies its standing in the battery capital of the world.
UT Austin’s investment in Group1 highlights the growing importance of sustainable energy solutions and the role of academia in fostering real-world applications. The joint endeavor between UT Austin and Group1 is not just a financial transaction; it’s a commitment to revolutionizing the future of battery technology. With Group1’s Potassium-ion batteries and UT Austin’s research prowess, this partnership is set to blaze a new trail in the energy industry.