The first phase of a £246 million Government investment into battery technology is being launched.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said the aim is to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

Known as the Faraday Challenge, the four-year investment round is a key part of the Government's Industrial Strategy. It will deliver a programme of competitions that will aim to boost the research and development of battery technology.

Birmingham's car industry and universities are engaged in research to make electric batteries more efficient, more compact and longer lasting to power our vehicles of the future and lessen the economy's dependence on oil, as well as boost our economy.

The West Midlands has already launched a bid to open a national battery research centre in Coventry.

The minister will tell a meeting hosted by the Resolution Foundation at the University of Birmingham today: "To enjoy a high and rising standard of living we must plan to be more productive than in the past.

"Economists have pointed to what they have called a productivity puzzle in Britain. That we appear to generate less value for our efforts than, say, people in Germany or France.

Greg Clark

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"In other words, we have to work longer to get the same rewards.

"It's not that we want - or need - people to work longer hours. 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."

Mr Clark said there had been an "extraordinary" reaction to a Green Paper on the Industrial Strategy, with over 1,900 written responses, from new start-ups to big businesses and from organisations as diverse as the Premier League to the Women's Engineering Society.

The Farday Challenge

Mr Clark says the investment will begin by bringing together the UK's best minds and facilities to create a Battery Institute.

He says: " 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 three 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.