£1m investment for pioneering Bristol firm on a mission to improve home heating systems

May 3, 2024

A Bristol start-up looking to revolutionise how homes are heated has raised almost £1m to further develop its air source heat pump technology,

Nusku was formed in 2022 after founder Russell Murchie, who was working at Dyson at the time, was chatting with friends about why heat pumps were not more popular. 

Russell, pictured,  thought he could tackle the problem head-on and, two years later, the business has six employees and a workshop and office space at the Future Space incubator on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus.

Now is also now has nearly £1m to invest in its technology, including a £727,000 grant from the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ), which has followed on from £245,000 of pre-seed funding from key people within the energy sector.

Russell said: “It’s been a whirlwind few years building a company from scratch and I’m still pinching myself at what’s been achieved.

“While we had confidence in our idea, if you’d told me two years ago that we’d raise almost £1m to develop it, I’d have struggled to believe you.

“It’s testament to the hard work of the team, who have designed a truly innovative heating system which we feel confident will have mass appeal once it’s on the market.

“The fact the government and leading figures from within the industry are backing us is a real vote of confidence.”

Russell, who worked as a fluid dynamics engineer at Dyson for 17 years – during which he led its product performance team – founded Nusku with Matthew Whitefoot and Andy Mckay who have experience within the renewable energy, finance and start-up spheres.

The firm is keeping tight-lipped about the exact details of the Nusku system as patents are currently being applied for.

However, Russell has said it is based on air source heat pump technology but is cheaper and quicker to install – taking a few days rather than over a week – as well as being more attractive than existing heat pumps.

He says this will specifically appeal to homeowners whose existing gas boiler has broken and they want a hassle-free and environmentally friendly replacement.

Another key ambition is for the Nusku heating system to be the smartest, most-connected and efficient on the market when it launches in the next few years.

The DESNZ grant, awarded via its Heat Pump Ready programme – part of the £1bn net zero innovation portfolio – will enable the product to be tested at the University of Salford’s Energy House,  a unique research and testing laboratory which comprises an early 20th century two-bedroom terraced house within an environmental chamber, allowing an accurate and rapid assessment of energy efficient retro-fit technologies.

Heat pumps use the same technology as fridges and work by moving heat from outside air to indoor radiators.

As they are powered by electricity, they are considered the most efficient way for the UK to shift to low-carbon heating and away from the gas-fired boilers that heat the majority of the UK’s 28m homes.

To help hit net zero targets, the government wants to grow the market in heat pumps to 600,000 installations a year by 2028 and is offering grants of £7,500 to property owners through a boiler upgrade scheme.

Russell said: “The idea for Nusku stemmed from a chat about why heat pumps are so popular in other countries, but not in the UK.

“There’s no real alternative to gas boilers at the moment in the UK, even though they will gradually be phased out and more environmentally friendly solutions are needed.”

He said heat pumps had been promised as the alternative for more than 20 years, yet homeowners who could afford one do not want one.

“We got talking about what needs to happen to change this, to give a better offering to UK homes and the idea for reinventing them began to form,” he added.

Being based in an enterprising city, with a strong green ethos, has also benefited Nusku at this early stage. Not only has Future Space offered office and workshop space, the team has accessed free support from the innovation team and their advisory network, worked with interns from UWE Bristol and received technical advice from university staff, all while being located alongside other green tech businesses.

Russell added: “Bristol being a city with a rich engineering history suits Nusku very well and we’ve been able to recruit some excellent staff who are not only technically competent, but have a strong desire to use their skills to help make a difference in the world, which is ultimately what we hope our heating system will achieve through cutting carbon dioxide emissions.”

Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Bristol for just £120 a month. Email info@bristol-business.net for more information.