By Powerscourt on 20/04/2022
On 5 April, Powerscourt client First Light Fusion announced a major breakthrough when it successfully produced fusion energy using a new approach. Peter Ogden, Partner and Head of Industrials at Powerscourt, outlines our work with the Oxford University spin-out.
Fusion is the energy source of tomorrow… and it always will be. It’s a joke as old as fusion itself and it sets the context for Powerscourt’s work for First Light Fusion.
The challenge was to build a compelling business case while retaining scientific credibility in a sector mired in scepticism.
Fusion is the hardest problem in physics and there is an ongoing tension between making the science accessible and maintaining scientific credibility.
It makes this month’s announcement all the more remarkable in the effort to generate electricity from the reaction that powers the sun, described by the UK Atomic Energy Authority as an “important step forward”.
Behind the fanfare, our work with First Light was underpinned by a strategic communications programme that began in 2017. We started with a workshop to define the company’s purpose and mission that clearly articulated the company’s bold ambitions:
Purpose – to power a world worth inheriting
Mission – to solve the problem of fusion power with the simplest machine possible
From there we developed a corporate narrative that would underpin future communications. We also worked with CEO Dr Nick Hawker to prepare for media interviews and speaking opportunities.
Our media strategy was – and remains – to pursue selective top tier media opportunities, in addition to strategic partnerships and content generation, with the objective of building scientific and investor credibility.
We achieved landmark editorial coverage across the New York Times, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, BBC, Nature, and the Sunday Times, where, in a ‘curtain raiser’ before the breakthrough announcement, First Light Fusion was the magazine cover story.
The media relations programme has contributed to elevate First Light among the most credible and promising fusion start-ups, helping the company attract both talent and funding.
The ‘projectile fusion’ breakthrough has cemented the company’s reputation and given us a strong foundation to communicate its vision and objectives to the audiences most important to it.
There is still some way to go before fusion energy can be produced at commercial scale but, as First Light continues on its journey, it will be just as important that we stick to a clearly defined campaign framework to achieve desired communications outcomes.
Gianluca Pisanello, COO of First Light Fusion, speaks to Powerscourt’s Steve Marinker about how a small ball of atoms “a few centimetres wide could power a UK home for two years”. This week’s Powerscourt Friday Fix discusses the milestone achievement of nuclear fusion and the challenges of communicating complex science to the masses. Tune in this Friday, 22 April to hear more
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