Oxford-based business, Streamlines, was launched in 2021 following years of aerodynamic research. They have now developed cycling performance technologies to enable cyclists to test and improve their aerodynamic performance on everyday roads with wind tunnel accuracy. Amanda Gerbasi gives us the insight on how it all began. ”Streamlines founder, John Buckley, has over 20 years’ experience as a motorsport aerodynamicist. He has worked in Formula One, is a life-long swimmer and loves triathlons. He became passionate about cycling but was getting frustrated by why his race times did not reflect his expected performance recorded from wind tunnels.
There was no way for cyclists to test their aerodynamic performance in real life conditions. So, in 2016 John began investigating ways of measuring aerodynamic drag in outdoor environments. The initial focus was on wind speed measurement and software calculations, but one of the major obstacles was ensuring that a rider’s body position remained constant during testing. The FORMA body position sensor was originally developed as an in-house tool to aid aerodynamic testing, but many test riders were asking if they could have a sensor of their own, to help with their own training and racing. The FORMA is a small sensor that’s placed between the handlebars. It has lasers that measure the chest and headheight and it gives the cyclist instant, real-time feedback on their bike computer to assist them with maintaining their optimal aerodynamic position.
Streamlines was launched in 2021 to further simplify and improve the user experience of aerodynamic testing, including the refinement of the FORMA
sensor before bringing it to market.”
As a new start-up company, John was looking for additional financial support opportunities locally which could help them bring their product to market. Amanda shares how they first connected with OxLEP Business, “A business contact of ours told us about OxLEP and explained that they offer no cost support for innovative businesses in Oxfordshire. So, we got in touch with them and straight away they were interested in what we were doing. They signposted us to their Go-Create grant, which was part of their Innovation Support for Business Programme (ISfB). It was available for businesses who were developing innovative products.
"We also attended a couple of OxLEP events and got to meet them in person which was great. These events were also good for us as we met with other businesses in Oxfordshire."
We applied for the grant to support the final steps of the development needed to bring the FORMA position sensor to market. We were awarded the grant which meant we could move faster with our final steps.
We used the funding specifically for external assistance to help with self-certifying the product, which is a lengthy and costly process. We also used the money to support the creation of an app that allows clients to update their FORMA software via Bluetooth, which is key to operability, because when we make changes, those changes need to be reflected on the clients’ sensors too. Lastly, the funding helped pay for Streamlines’ Bluetooth SIG organisation membership, which is a requirement for businesses which sell products commercially that use Bluetooth technology.
Amanda tells us, “We’re so grateful to OxLEP for the financial help. We needed these things done before we were able to officially launch FORMA. So, this has put us steps ahead of where we would have been. Their team are extremely nice, very helpful, personable and patient as well. They were always available when we needed to speak to them. We also attended a couple of events and got to meet them in person which was great. These events were also good for us as we met with other businesses in Oxfordshire. Because we are in this very niche area of business, we don’t often get to speak to other businesses going through the same issues, so that was really valuable.
We are now in the very final stages of launch. We had a few setbacks with regards to the electronics boards, but those are now fixed and we’re in the process of assembling the final FORMA sensors. All the packaging and instruction manuals are ready. The press release is ready to go. Some products have already been sent out to our VIP clients, free of charge, because they will be using and testing the products for us and then promoting online which will be good exposure for the product. And, next week we’re adding a batch to our e-shop for consumers to purchase. Then following this we’ll be working on a second product, so watch this space!”