Redback managing director Philip Livingstone (right) with Queensland energy minister Mark Bailey.

Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with University of Queensland’s commercialisation company UniQuest in February this year, Brisbane start-up Redback Technologies has opened a new research and development facility at UQ’s Indooroopilly Campus.

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, UniQuest is taking an equity position with Redback in return for the tech company having exclusive licences to UQ research across its engineering and science sectors.

The new R&D facility will be focused on developing new software and hardware for residential consumers that will provide a faster return on investment and enable them to store, monitor and manage solar energy more efficiently.

Founder and managing director of Redback Technologies, Philip Livingston, said the company was experiencing such rapid growth, it expected to be employing new people at the rate of one fresh hire a week initially. Ultimately, it is expected to grow from its current staff of 27 to around 87 people across roles including software development, hardware development and client services.

“Our current team has extensive experience in renewable energy generation, engineering, manufacturing, software development and energy market regulation,” Mr Livingston said.

“We’re looking forward to expanding the business, bringing on new talent to further develop our current solutions to make them even smarter.”

He said the company was also hoping to bring in people from the mining and manufacturing industries, as those skills can be “repurposed”.

Strong growth

Mr Livingston is “thrilled” by the growth Redback has experienced over the past 18 months, which he said had resulted from opportunities to form partnerships, its development of new intelligent technologies and an increase in the number of households adopting solar energy.

“In this sense, hiring new employees is the natural next step for the company,” he said.

As well as products for residential consumers, Livingston said the company engaged with energy retailers, distributed network service providers, telecommunication companies, real estate developers and electrical wholesale/distribution companies servicing solar integration companies to provide specific use case scenarios for its technologies with either individual systems or in aggregate.

The company was initially founded as a joint venture company between a top five Chinese Inverter company GoodWe (Jiangsu) Power Supply Technology and a range of sophisticated seed Australian investors.

Mr Livingston said the company’s hardware designs were based on the extensive knowledge of its chief technical officer, Christopher Freitas, who is based in Seattle, US, in conjunction with external design consultancies.

The hardware is commercialised, production engineered and manufactured at Goodwe in Suzhou, China, with direct support from the company’s China-based team of product managers, CAD designers, quality assurance engineers and project managers.

All the software is conceptualised and built at the Brisbane office.

Disruptive change

Mr Livingston said there were disruptive changes being experienced in energy markets.

For the company’s market, this means that while it is providing products for sale today, the broader role of the company during this early stage of development is to “prove scenarios” –for example, proving that it is possible to provide the features and benefits that are “critical for the technical/ financial transaction of energy services for a disparate volume of downstream customers that might leverage our technology”.

He said that in the short to medium term, the company was developing an increased range of hardware architectures and looking to achieve “disruptive cost reduction”.

Hardware development would see significant increases in staff counts in China for production, and increases in electrical engineering staff in Australia, he said.

“Redback will be continually hiring the smartest grads from Australian universities, and thought leaders in the energy sector, as a means of creating the fundamental change we wish to see in the world,” Mr Livingston said.

That change being an “evolution from a grid that is primarily dirty, to one that is primarily clean, adaptive and low-cost.”