Paul and Elspeth Drayson, the co-founders and owners of Drayson Racing Technologies, are entrepreneurs with over 40 years combined experience in the successful development of science based enterprises.
Elspeth, a graduate of Imperial College, London University and Oxford University worked in technology transfer and medical products businesses before co-founding PowderJect with Paul Drayson.
Paul, an engineer trained in the car industry and a graduate of Aston University had already built and sold one successful business backed by 3i plc when he met Professor Brian Bellhouse and Elspeth at Oxford in 1993.
Over ten years they built PowderJect Pharmaceuticals Plc into one of the UK’s most successful biotechnology businesses. The company grew from 3 to over 1,000 employees, floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1997 and was the first UK biotech company to achieve profitability in 2002 before its acquisition for £550 million in 2003.
Having chaired the UK’s BioIndustry Association for two years and become involved in the industry’s campaign against animal rights extremism, Paul focused on politics with an emphasis on policies regarding science and innovation. In 2004 he was appointed a Life Peer and in 2005 a Defence Minister by Prime Minister Tony Blair. He took on additional Ministerial responsibilities in the Department for Business in 2007.
During this period Paul was responsible for producing the UK’s Defence Industrial and Technology Strategies and the Creation of the Centre for Defence Enterprise and the Defence Equipment & Support organisation.
For over four years Paul and Elspeth have been pioneers in the development of sustainable green technology in motorsport. As successful biotechnology entrepreneurs and parents of five children they are well aware of the potential, and the importance of new technology being employed to address the twin challenges of climate change and energy independence. They were the first(1) to develop and race a GT3 race-car running on second generation bio-ethanol fuel, achieving the first Pole and Race Win(2) for a bio-ethanol fuelled car in a national championship race.
Motor racing has always been a spur to innovation and has the capacity to have a major impact on public attitudes. Elspeth & Paul believe that motorsport can continue to drive the development of new technologies for sustainable high performance and to make “going green” cool and exciting – not dull and boring.
When Paul left government in November 2007, Elspeth and Paul founded Drayson Racing Technologies LLP to create a business to pioneer developments in green racing.
In 2008 they signed a Technical Partnership Agreement with JCB and commissioned the development of a new GT2 Aston Martin race-car specifically designed to run on 2nd generation bio-ethanol fuel, racing in the American Le Mans Series and debuting in the 2009 Le Mans 24 hours race. During this time they carried out research and development to optimise the biofuel system and a novel experimental carbon capture technology inserted into the exhaust system of the race car.
Upon returning to government as Minister for Science & Innovation in 2008, Paul stepped back from the business, which was run by Elspeth throughout this period. Paul focused on his Ministerial duties, purely concentrating on driving duties in the Lola-Judd race-car. As Science Minister however, Paul was presented with the data underlining the scale of the challenge presented by climate change and this further reinforced the Drayson’s desire to be involved in finding technology solutions. In 2009-10 the business developed and raced a unique “flex-fuel” Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) race car specifically designed to run on BOTH second generation E85 bio-ethanol fuel and conventional petrol race fuel.
Again Drayson Racing achieved some notable firsts. In particular a first ever Pole and Race Win(3) for a bio-ethanol fuelled car in an international race at the Road America Le Mans race in 2010.
Following the General Election and the change of government in May 2010, Paul returned to the Drayson Racing Technologies business. Since then Elspeth and Paul have worked together to again build a leading profitable technology company – at the forefront of the green racing revolution.
Drayson Racing Technologies moved into a brand new 7,500 sq ft facility close to Oxford and at the heart of the UK’s world-class motorsport industry in early 2011 where the business and racing team are now based.
(1) In collaboration with Prodrive and Barwell Motorsport
(2) Driven by Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker
(3) Driven by Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker