BRANDISHING a cordless drill on stage, Simon Harris looks ready to start a spot of DIY rather than pitch to potential investors.

But as investment and marketing director of Harwell Campus-based technology firm ZapGo, he is demonstrating a crucial point about the start-up company’s ultra-fast battery charging technology.

Cordless drills, hedge cutters, vacuum cleaners, sanders and many other DIY tools we use around our homes and gardens run off batteries.

Mr Harris said: “Typically, cordless drills or vacuum cleaners take between two to four hours to recharge enough to give 20 minutes of cleaning time.

“How many times have you gone to start a job and found the battery is depleted?”

He added: “If you are using a cordless drill or screwdriver, you probably only want a few minutes of trigger-time to finish the job but have to wait hours for slow-charging batteries to recharge.”

Lithium batteries which power most cordless devices have to be charged slowly, as lithium is an extremely volatile substance which, if charged too rapidly, could catch fire.

ZapGo believes it may have found the answer with its technology.

Based on carbon nano-materials, including the wonder-material graphene, it is called Carbon-lon.

The result is ultra-fast charging in five minutes or less.

The charger also has a much longer life span and is made of recyclable materials.

And unlike other fast-charging devices, Zap & Go is shaped like a flat-pack, making it easier to fit into hand-held devices.

Partly developed by Oxford University and partly by ZapGo’s own scientists, a prototype of the technology is being used in home appliances such as cordless drills, with its first commercial product due to go into production later this year.

ZapGo won the Marks & Clerk Best Tech Pitch prize at this year’s Oxford Trust Enterprise Awards, held at the Kings Centre in Osney Mead on June 20.

The award, which carried a £1,000 first prize, is presented to the best pitch for a new technology development.

Simon Harris was at the Awards gala dinner with senior scientist and ZapGo’s head of development Dr Hugh Sutherland.

Mr Harris said: “Everyone is looking for a better solution to batteries.

“There are so many devices and so many batteries which need charging and re-charging again and again.

“At ZapGo we think we’re on to a solution and are delighted to receive this award from The Oxford Trust and Marks & Clark in recognition of our work.”

Founder and chief executive Stephen Voller set up the firm in 2013.

Mr Harris describes the team’s marketing task to have its Zap & Go product adopted by the owners of major cordless appliance brands.

And when it comes to future plans to solve what he describes as the “flat-battery crisis”, Mr Harris has set his sights on something much bigger – buses.

He believes ZapGo could dramatically reduce the length of time an electric bus or other vehicle is forced to sit idle in a garage while its battery is recharged.

He explained: “What I want is a bus maker, because we would like to work with the bus industry.

“By developing the ability to charge bus batteries more quickly, we could increase usage of electric buses and reduce pollution.”

ZapGo employs 22 staff at its Harwell base and plans to recruit 10 more next year.

Last month, it signed a manufacturing deal with a Chinese company which will start manufacturing its product.

Mr Harris pointed out: “China is the biggest market when it comes to making and using batteries.

“The company we have signed with makes traditional batteries but its line is suitable to make our product as well as theirs, so we go into volume manufacturing this winter.”