How to raise money to build a prototype of a new engine design (Now with more PAINT)

Lifted

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2004
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Suppose you have a design for a new combustion engine that will be 300% more efficient than current combustion engines. Where would you go to raise funding to develop a prototype - 5 million USD.

Major automobile manufacturers are out since they basically want you to sign everything over to them before even speaking with you.

The US Government (DOE) makes getting grants nearly impossible as they require one of the major automotive companies to sponsor your project.

So where else is there to go for money for such a design without the expectation of a huge percentage of ownership? Are there organizations out there that give grants/funding for "green" projects? Universities?
 
Mar 10, 2005
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300% more efficient? really? in what way?
 

88MVP

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Nov 18, 2008
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My advice would be to find yourself an angel investor who can get you started on a more modest budget with a short term goal (maybe getting another engineer or two with a solid background to sign on and confirm the viability of the design). Then look for venture capital.

If you really have a valuable invention on your hands, my strongest advice is to find yourself an attorney who specializes in startups and venture capital. You will absolutely want to spend some money now to make sure your IP is protected, that you're taking the proper steps to incorporate, etc. They'll also be well suited to help point you towards potential VC investors.

Be prepared to pay professionals (i.e. lawyers and accountants) and offer up equity stake and stock options to compensate the people you need to bring on board at each step.

Best of luck.
 

Howard

Lifer
Oct 14, 1999
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Shark Tank

By the way, 300% is pretty much impossible. Carnot's limit is around 75%.

EDIT: Get around it by superheating the combustion event.
 

kornphlake

Golden Member
Dec 30, 2003
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Universities usually jump on technology they can patent and collect royalties for years. The University wants to fund it's own programs though, not yours, they may give you a grant as a grad student or professor while the tech is being developed but ultimately they're going to retain any patents you'll collect nothing. University students aren't often the most capable engineers, likewise professors aren't often the most capable either.
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
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So where else is there to go for money for such a design without the expectation of a huge percentage of ownership?

So you want someone to give you a huge amount of money to pursue something that has a very high risk of having no return, without having to compensate them accordingly?

I suggest that you pursue people who occupy the intersection of the groups, "rich" and "stupid".

I may be being a bit too blunt here, but what you are talking about has, historically, about the same chance of paying off as cold fusion. You have to expect that anyone who is willing to take a chance and give you the money will want at least some significant ownership in order to compensate them for the risk they're assuming.

88MVP has good advice, but even along that route you're going to need to be prepared to give up at least some portion of ownership.

ZV
 

Lifted

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2004
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This isn't my design, a friend has been working on it for decades. Patent pending. The patent lawyer couldn't care less about helping him find venture capital, he just wants to get paid his fees like all lawyers.
 

Lifted

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2004
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So you want someone to give you a huge amount of money to pursue something that has a very high risk of having no return, without having to compensate them accordingly?

I suggest that you pursue people who occupy the intersection of the groups, "rich" and "stupid".

I may be being a bit too blunt here, but what you are talking about has, historically, about the same chance of paying off as cold fusion. You have to expect that anyone who is willing to take a chance and give you the money will want at least some significant ownership in order to compensate them for the risk they're assuming.

88MVP has good advice, but even along that route you're going to need to be prepared to give up at least some portion of ownership.

ZV

Well, for better or worse, my friend is a bit stubborn when it comes to relinquishing any control... due to concern of having it stolen out from under him I think. He's opening up a bit to other ideas though. He figures it would take him 15 years to build it alone using his own money, or 2 years with a proper team which would cost 4 or 5 million. I don't think he's in much of a rush after spending decades on the design, but he's no spring chicken either.
 

Zenmervolt

Elite member
Oct 22, 2000
24,512
21
81
This isn't my design, a friend has been working on it for decades. Patent pending. The patent lawyer couldn't care less about helping him find venture capital, he just wants to get paid his fees like all lawyers.

Why is it the patent lawyer's job to help him find capital? Does your friend also expect the cashier at the grocery store to cook his food and his mechanic to negotiate the price of his next car?

Well, for better or worse, my friend is a bit stubborn when it comes to relinquishing any control... due to concern of having it stolen out from under him I think. He's opening up a bit to other ideas though. He figures it would take him 15 years to build it alone using his own money, or 2 years with a proper team which would cost 4 or 5 million. I don't think he's in much of a rush after spending decades on the design, but he's no spring chicken either.

I can understand those concerns, but one has to be realistic. Without sharing at least some of the ownership of the idea, he's basically asking for someone else to take all the risk without being guaranteed any of the (potential) reward.

ZV
 
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senseamp

Lifer
Feb 5, 2006
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Well, for better or worse, my friend is a bit stubborn when it comes to relinquishing any control... due to concern of having it stolen out from under him I think. He's opening up a bit to other ideas though. He figures it would take him 15 years to build it alone using his own money, or 2 years with a proper team which would cost 4 or 5 million. I don't think he's in much of a rush after spending decades on the design, but he's no spring chicken either.

Why is he not in a rush? Once he gets a patent, that has an expiration date. If it takes him 15 years to build a prototype, it'll be almost off patent by then.
 

PottedMeat

Lifer
Apr 17, 2002
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if he's been working on the design for years, couldn't he cobble something together or a part of the engine and use that to attract an investor?
 

joesmoke

Diamond Member
Nov 2, 2007
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maybe im just way out of line with this, but how could he be sure its that effiecient if he hasnt built a prototype?

also, if he can prove it well enough and patents it wouldnt the rights alone be enough to make you uber rich without making a single engine yourself?
 

Lifted

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2004
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I'm not dismissing your ideas, but you're all are preaching to the choir here. :D

He'd like to try to do this through grant money or some similar way before going the venture capital route. With that in mind, I thought I'd see if anyone out there may have been, or has known somebody who has been in a similar situation, and may have some ideas.
 

Bignate603

Lifer
Sep 5, 2000
13,897
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Shark Tank

By the way, 300% is pretty much impossible. Carnot's limit is around 75%.

EDIT: Get around it by superheating the combustion event.

I will believe those kind of numbers when I see it. People have been trying for decades to beat the efficiency of the typical piston style engine but nobody has. There's loads of engine designs that were supposed to be the next big thing but usually it turns out that their math was wrong, a misunderstanding of how things work (see all of those "run your car off water" products out there), they didn't accurately account for all the efficiency losses in the real world, the engine is impossible to actually build so it can run (impossible to get it to seal, requires materials with impossible properties, etc) or often all of the above.

A big wig at my company unfortunately listened to a set of guys promising the world with their engine design. It might run, but just barely. It's a sealing nightmare so it will struggle to achieve compression and the geometry required for the engine makes it practically impossible for it to be designed to have enough strength to function. I was finally able to get our company out of our relationship with them. They're going to be building a prototype soon but I don't think much will come of it. I did warn them to stand VERY far away when they turn it on though.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
31,569
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venture capital, DoD proposals, DoE proposals, and i'm sure one of the big car MFR's would *love* to have a more efficient engine.
 

Ballatician

Golden Member
Dec 6, 2007
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I see you are already looking into protecting your IP which is the first step. A provisional patent is pretty cheap to secure and gives you a year(?) of protection while you make decisions.

For a project of such scale, you have to find a partner. To find a partner, you need a prototype. If you can get together some of your money to build a prototype for proof of concept then it will show you are serious and attract money.

Look into SBIR's and also whatever grants you can from the government. Universities are a good place to pursue high risk projects so reach out and talk to people, having them sign NDA's if appropriate.
 

43st

Diamond Member
Nov 7, 2001
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If, and that's a big if, the proposal is bullet proof he should be able to find an angel easily. Maybe even consider DARPA, the DoD is on a massive alt. fuel/ efficiency kick right now.

The trick to things like this.. is that companies are more interested in working product than they are in ideas. Ideas are like a**holes, everyone has one. It's execution and the ability to bring product to market that makes people money.. lots of money.
 
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halik

Lifer
Oct 10, 2000
25,696
1
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Suppose you have a design for a new combustion engine that will be 300% more efficient than current combustion engines. Where would you go to raise funding to develop a prototype - 5 million USD.

Major automobile manufacturers are out since they basically want you to sign everything over to them before even speaking with you.

The US Government (DOE) makes getting grants nearly impossible as they require one of the major automotive companies to sponsor your project.

So where else is there to go for money for such a design without the expectation of a huge percentage of ownership? Are there organizations out there that give grants/funding for "green" projects? Universities?

Err current combustion engines are ~20% efficient, how exactly are you gonna gonna get it >1 ? (0.2 * 30 ...)

Per wiki, rocket engines are around 70% efficient and that's about as good as combustion will get. I smell BS already.
 
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Lifted

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2004
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Err current combustion engines are ~20% efficient, how exactly are you gonna gonna get it >1 ? (0.2 * 30 ...)

Per wiki, rocket engines are around 70% efficient and that's about as good as combustion will get. I smell BS already.

I have no clue about engine efficiency, but I'm fairly certain .2 * 3 = .6.