Power up: Government to plough £246m investment into battery technology competition

Catherine Neilan
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Go Ultra Low Electric Vehicle on charge on a London street
Greg Clark wants to make the UK a leading player in electric battery technology (Source: Getty)

The government is to plough £246m into battery technology, in a bid to make the country a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

Business secretary Greg Clark will today unveil a four-year investment round dubbed the Faraday Challenge, as a key part of the government's industrial strategy. The money will be used to produce a coordinated programme of competitions that will aim to boost both the research and development of expertise in 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.

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The most promising research will then be moved closer to the market through industrial collaborations led by Innovate UK. The Advanced Propulsion Centre will work with the automotive sector to identify the best ideas to develop at the National Battery Manufacturing Development facility.

The Faraday Challenge board will be chaired by Professor Richard Parry-Jones, a senior engineering leader with years of senior automotive industry experience. He recently chaired the UK Automotive Council.

The government and Ofgem will also set out a plan later today to make the energy system is fit for the future.

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At a speech hosted by the Resolution Foundation in Birmingham, Greg Clark will today say: "Our strategy will create the conditions that boost earning power throughout the country – its people, places and companies.

"Later in the year we will respond formally to the consultation with a White Paper. But the shape of it is already becoming clear. One of the strengths of an industrial strategy is to be able to bring together concerted effort on areas of opportunity that have previously been in different sectors, or which require joining forces between entrepreneurs, scientists and researchers, industries, and local and national government.

"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."

He will also point to Britain's productivity puzzle. "It’s not that we want – or need – people to work longer hours," he will say. "It’s that we need to ensure that we find and seize opportunities to work more productively – as a country, as cities and regions, as businesses and as individuals. If we can do so, we can increase the earning power of our country and our people.

"We have great strengths. Our economy has been extraordinarily good at creating jobs. When we look at our closest neighbours, we can be truly proud of the fact almost everyone of working age in this country is in work and earning."

Today’s announcement follows a review by Sir Mark Walport, which identified battery technology as an area the UK could benefit from.

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