A £126million battery facility to keep the West Midlands at the forefront of the automotive industry has been ‘supercharged’ by an £18million grant from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) in Coventry is billed as being key in growing industrial battery manufacturing capability in the UK.
The WMCA board, chaired by Mayor Andy Street, says it has approved a repayable grant of £18million to help ensure UKBIC has the latest technology to attract top-tier automotive manufacturers and research and development companies.
A consortium comprising Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and the Warwick Manufacturing Group as awarded £80million by the government towards the UK BIC in November 2017, before then Business Secretary Greg Clark announced a £28million boost in May this year as his department launched the first Local Industrial Strategy in the West Midlands.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “UKBIC aims to put the West Midlands at the forefront of global battery research, as the automotive market moves away from polluting fuels like petrol and diesel and towards a greener, cleaner future using battery technology.
“This investment by the WMCA will help ensure UKBIC features the very best, cutting-edge manufacturing technology, which in turn will attract automotive manufacturers and leading research scientists to the region to scale-up ground-breaking technology.
“Here in the West Midlands we are building a cutting edge electric vehicle cluster including UKBIC and JLR’s Castle Bromwich plant where the new all electric XJ will be built.
“This cluster is helping to position our region as the global leader in autonomous vehicles, however in order to take the next step we have to build a gigafactory. This factory would mass produce the state-of-the-art batteries that UKBIC will scale up, and I would implore the government to continue to back our plans.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “As part of our vision for Coventry, we identified the need to locate UK BIC right here in the heart of the manufacturing centre of the country.
“I want our city and our workers to have the opportunity to take advantage of what will be the new green industrial revolution, starting here in Coventry. This is a step towards realising that dream of mass employment opportunities creating both the jobs and the products of the future. Coventry stands ready to deliver.”
Jonathan Browning, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “UKBIC will play a vital role in helping the UK to become a global leader in the manufacture and scale-up of batteries and is truly a collaborative project.
“Coventry and Warwickshire has been at the forefront of innovation and expertise in a number of vital areas, and UKBIC will see us leading a project which will have a major influence on the sector.”
The 18,000 metre-square facility, which is due for completion in March next year, will initially employ an estimated 100 people once fully operational. Additional jobs will also be generated in the supply chain, and further employment and training opportunities will be created in the future.