£28m battery tech funding provides fuel to West Midlands industrial strategy launch

Andy Street

Business Secretary Greg Clark and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street will today reveal a further £28m investment in Coventry’s battery industrialisation centre as they visit the city to launch the West Midlands’ industrial strategy.

The strategy, launched at the Advanced Propulsion centre in Coventry, aims to “increase people’s earning power and create an inclusive, clean and resilient local economy”. It includes plans to develop the next generation of battery technology for electric vehicles at the UK’s flagship Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), backed by a £28m investment.

It is third time lucky for the strategy launch which had been twice scheduled in March but postponed because of Westminster Brexit dramas.

The battery centre was first announced in 2017, when a consortium including Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and WMG, at the University of Warwick, were given £80m to launch the site.

The partnership was given planning permission in November 2018 for the 193,750 sq ft research and development facility which is at the junction of the A444 with the A4114/Whitley Roundabout in Coventry. It will employ 100 people when fully operational.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The West Midlands is already home to the industries of tomorrow.

“This Local Industrial Strategy also shows how we can become a global player in the digital and creative industries. The Strategy will build on these strengths to release the region’s full economic potential for the benefit of all communities across the entire West Midlands.”

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The launch of this first Local Industrial Strategy in the West Midlands is testament to the local civic and business leadership in the region, builds on its continued success to ensure every community across the region reaches their potential.

“This Local Industrial Strategy is tailored to the specific challenges in the West Midlands, and will set an example for other regions to follow.

“Our funding for the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry is a key part of this, and will see a world-class facility developed in this automotive heartland, further cementing opportunities, growth and inward investment in the West Midlands.”

The strategy as a whole aims to deliver cleaner, safer and more reliable forms of transport, including a focus on electric and autonomous vehicles which will be in operation prior to the 2022 Commonwealth Games, investing in 5G and artificial intelligence.

As part of this, the development of a West Midlands Translational Medicine and Med-Tech commission to accelerate the ‘lab to patient’ ecosystem is being supported.

The national Industrial Strategy has already seem millions invested in the West Midlands, including £20m towards better transport technology across Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry, £50m to develop a 5G testbed, £332m to extend the metro system and a £69m skills deal.