Dyson invests $15 million in Michigan battery company

UK inventor James Dyson's eponymous appliances firm that makes blade-les fans and bag-less vacuum cleaners, has made a $15-million investment in cutting-edge, solid-state battery company Sakti3.

Existing investors General Motors, Khosla Ventures, Beringea, and Itochu were also participating, taking the full value of the funding round to $20 million.

The University of Michigan spin off had received $50 million in funding to date. It took  a little over $11 million over two rounds back in 2010, in addition to a $2 million Series A in 2009, a previously unannounced $14 million Series B-1 in 2012, and a $3 million grant.

For Dyson, the deal represented one of the first investments to emerge from the $2.3 billion fund it set aside last year to plow into so-called ''future technologies,'' as it looked to bring 100 machines in four new portfolios to market over the next four years.

Moreover, the development agreement includes Dyson commercialising Sakti3's batteries, indicating Dyson could use Sakti3's technology in future machines.

''Sakti3 has achieved leaps in performance which current battery technology simply can't,'' explains James Dyson, founder and chief engineer at Dyson, in a press release. ''It's these fundamental technologies – batteries, motors – that allow machines to work properly.''

This marked the first commercial application for the University of Michigan spin-off company's technology and also reflected a potential stepping stone as the company sought to deliver advanced next-generation batteries for electric vehicles.

"This is a very significant event for the company. Dyson is a multibillion-dollar global design, engineering and manufacturing company - and they have the will, the need and the capability to integrate our technology into their outstanding products and scale quickly," Sakti3 CEO Ann Marie Sastry said in an interview to Detroit Free Press.

Home electronics represented Sakti3's most efficient path to market, according to Sastry.

The company was however, still developing its technology for use in electric vehicles. It recently reported that its technology provided more than twice the energy density of current lithium-ion batteries.

According to Sastry, Sakti3 would continue to hire engineers at its Ann Arbor headquarters.

"When you invest in a company, often it's the person and the team you are backing as much as it is the technology they're creating," said James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of Dyson, in a statement. "What Sakti3 is doing is incredibly exciting, and they have the right team to do it, in the right environment."