Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced the launch of the first phase of a £246m government investment into battery technology. The development of UK capacity in battery technology is seen as a key element of the UK's industrial strategy.
Known as the Faraday Challenge, the 4-year investment round will deliver a coordinated programme of competitions that will aim to boost both the research and development of expertise in battery technology.
An overarching Faraday Challenge Advisory Board will be established to ensure the coherence and impact of the challenge. The board will be chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, former chair of the Automotive Council.
The first element of the strategy will be a competition led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a Battery Institute. The most promising research completed by the Institute will be moved closer to the market through industrial collaborations led by Innovate UK.
The Faraday Challenge’s competitions are divided into 3 streams - research, innovation and scale-up - designed to drive a step-change in translating the UK’s world-leading research into market-ready technology that ensures economic success for the UK:
Research: To support world class research and training in battery materials, technologies and manufacturing processes, the government has opened a £45m competition, led by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), to bring the best minds and facilities together to create a virtual Battery Institute. The successful consortium of universities will be responsible for undertaking research looking to address the key industrial challenges in this area.
Innovation: The most promising research completed by the Institute will be moved closer to the market through collaborative research and development competitions, led by Innovate UK. The initial competitions will build on the best of current world-leading science already happening in the UK and helping make the technology more accessible for UK businesses.
Scale-up: To further develop the real-world use and application of battery technology the government has opened a competition, led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre, to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.
Ruth McKernan, Innovate UK Chief Executive said: "By any scale, the Faraday Challenge is a game changing investment in the UK and will make people around the globe take notice of what the UK is doing in terms of battery development for the automotive sector.
"The competitions opening this week present huge opportunities for UK businesses, helping to generate further jobs and growth in the UK’s low carbon economy."
Alongside the Government's announcement, the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) launched a competition to facilitate funding of the UK’s first automotive battery manufacturing development centre, in conjunction with Innovate UK. The new facility is intended to allow pioneering battery technology to be scaled up suitable for high-volume production.
Garry Wilson, Business Development Director, APC, said “The new National Battery Manufacturing Development facility will be a national asset and the first of its kind being open to all UK located organisations to develop manufacturing processes for their concept ready battery technologies at production rates appropriate to ‘giga’ factories. The objective is that these processes can transfer to UK high volume battery manufacturing facilities helping to establish the UK as a centre for battery research, development and manufacture.”
Innovate UK will host a briefing event in Birmingham on 3rd August
covering the scope for the first tranche of the Faraday Challenge. The event will be of interest to entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers who can expand their work in the areas of battery chemistry, raw materials, materials processing, cell components, cell, module and pack assembly and vehicle integration, cell production methods, and any aspect of the future electric vehicle battery supply chain. Regional brokerage events will also be held in London on the 10th August and Newcastle on the 11th August.