Electric vehicle battery technology gets supercharged funding boost.

Research and development of battery technology for electric vehicles is set to accelerate in coming years.

The UK government has announced a £246m investment over the next four years for research and development in energy storage and batteries for electric vehicles.

UK paving the way in battery research

The Faraday Challenge, as it is being called, aims to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy. The initiative, from BEIS, also seeks to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s best innovators at the very forefront of global excellence. The funding I am announcing today, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of support to develop the next generation of technologies across a range of sectors, shows our determination and commitment to making sure the UK remains at the very forefront of research innovation for years to come.”

Post Brexit boost

It’s hoped the funding will help UK businesses compete on a global scale in a post-Brexit environment. According to the CBI, firms are concerned about lagging behind the global business community when it comes to innovation. Some 70% of UK firms are planning to increase or maintain their spending levels on innovation following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, said: “As we leave the EU, we are determined to help Britain’s innovators compete with the best and seize the opportunities ahead, and this money will help advance our position as a global leader in developing cutting-edge technologies.”

Tim Payne, CEO of InstaVolt, has welcomed the news. He said: “The UK has a far-reaching reputation for engineering excellence and this latest funding package will allow us to prove that yet again. There are some exciting developments taking place in all four corners of the country and access to funding will help businesses at the helm of this ground-breaking research to bring it to fruition.”

Tim added that research into increasing electric vehicle battery capacity will be welcomed by both scientists and drivers. “One of the key factors stopping people from buying electric cars is range anxiety – a fear of running out of charge and not being able to top up. If we can eliminate that fear by increasing the battery capacity of electric vehicles we can boost adoption of this much greener technology.”

Driverless vehicle technology to benefit

The £246m funding packing is from the £1bn Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund that will be spent across six areas including healthcare, robotics, materials, space technology and autonomous vehicles.

Under the fund a number of other fields will receive investment. They are:

  • Cutting-edge healthcare and medicine: an investment of £197 million over 4 years to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI): an investment of £93 million over 4 years to make industry and public services more productive, by developing AI and robotics systems that can be deployed in extreme environments which occur in off-shore energy, nuclear energy, space and deep mining

Driverless cars, which hadn’t previously been listed in the challenge fund, are also set to benefit from funding. Subject to business case approval, the government will invest a further £38m in new collaborative R&D projects.

Manufacturing and future materials and satellites and space technology will also receive a boost.

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