Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark announced in a keynote speech on the Industrial Strategy the launch of the first phase of a £246 million government investment into battery technology to ensure the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.
Known as the Faraday Challenge, the 4-year investment round is a key part of the government's Industrial Strategy. It 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, a senior engineering leader with many decades of senior automotive industry experience and recently chaired the UK Automotive Council for 6 years.
Greg Clark is expected to say on the government's approach: "I am today launching the Faraday Challenge, which will put £246 million into research, innovation and scale-up of battery technology. The first element 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. And the Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive sector to identify the best proposition for a new state-of-the-art open access National Battery Manufacturing Development facility. The work that we do through the Faraday Challenge will - quite literally - power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world."
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.
The announcement follows a review, commissioned as part of the Industrial Strategy green paper, by Sir Mark Walport in which he identified areas where the UK had strengths in battery technology and could benefit from linkage through this challenge fund.
The Faraday Challenge forms 1 of 6 key challenge areas that the government, together with business and academia, has identified through its flagship Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) as being one of the UK's core industrial challenges, where research and innovation can help unlock markets and industries of the future in which the UK can become world-leading.
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."
Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: "Batteries will form a cornerstone of a low carbon economy, whether in cars, aircraft, consumer electronics, district or grid storage. To deliver the UK's low carbon economy we must consolidate and grow our capabilities in novel battery technology. EPSRC's previous research investments mean we are in a world-leading position. The Faraday Challenge is a new way of working. It will bring together the best minds in the field, draw on others from different disciplines, and link intimately with industry, innovators and other funders, such as InnovateUK, to ensure we maintain that our world leading position and keep the pipeline of fundamental science to innovation flowing."
Richard Parry-Jones, newly appointed Chair of the Faraday Challenge Advisory Board said: "The power of the Faraday Challenge derives from the joining-up of all 3 stages of research from the brilliant research in the university base, through innovation in commercial applications to scaling up for production. It will focus our best minds on the critical industrial challenges that are needed to establish the UK as one of the world leaders in advanced battery technologies and associated manufacturing capability."
In April, the government announced £1 billion of investment through the fund in cutting-edge technologies to create jobs and raise living standards. Other areas receiving government support through the ISCF in 2017 to 2018 include cutting edge healthcare and medicine, robotics and artificial intelligence, and satellite and space technology.
The Business Secretary will also be confirming the launch of the third Connected Autonomous Vehicles research and development competition, with £25 million of funding being made available to new projects.
For the first time the government is making funding available to off-road driverless innovation, with investments earmarked for cutting-edge projects that will grow the commercial potential of off-road driverless technology and develop technologies that will increase productivity and improve mobility in a range of sectors including construction, farming and mining.
Government has already invested more than £100 million of research and development funding in over 50 connected and autonomous vehicle projects across the country to help UK businesses and Universities take advantage of the huge commercial opportunities in this area.
Source and top image: UK Government