The £130 million UKBIC is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future. The unique facility provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Based in Coventry, the publicly-funded battery product development facility welcomes manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, and can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology – if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.
UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC), a Government programme to fast-track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.
In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK.
Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd have formed a Joint Venture Partnership to secure planning permission for a Gigafactory at Coventry Airport and prepare the site for a future occupier. An outline planning application was submitted by the JV Partners in July 2021 for 5.7 million sq ft, following a detailed pre-application consultation process. A final decision on the application is expected later in 2021. The occupier-led building design is expected to be approved by the end of 2022, with Phase One battery production to commence by 2025.
The West Midlands is the obvious location for a UK gigafactory. It is the beating heart of the UK automotive sector: one-third of UK-made cars come from West Midlands production lines; 25% of UK-made engines come from the West Midlands; the region employs 46,500 in the automotive sector; the sector delivers £3.2bn GVA per year.
Within the wider West Midlands, Coventry and Warwickshire has emerged as a centre of excellence in battery production and is home to the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), WMG, and the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). Coventry and Warwickshire are also home to several leading car makers, including Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin Lagonda, London EV Company, and Tata Motors.
Useful Learnings from UKBIC
Leaving the European Union allied with a global pandemic made importing expensive equipment from abroad and getting it delivered and installed very difficult.
We used expertise from a variety of different areas to plan the requirements for industry, research and local planning – including OEM, University and Council Officers.
We learned a lot about the procurement of specialist equipment from all over the globe and the delivery of equipment.
We worked closely with the funding body once the bid was successful.
Number of jobs created.