Experts from the UK’s energy industries and leading research institutions met today at the launch of the Harwell Campus EnergyTec Cluster and the opening of the Faraday Institution’s headquarters. Both organisations restated their commitment to solve the energy challenges laid out in the UK’s Industrial Strategy and in the ongoing search for solutions to the world’s energy problems. It was agreed that to deliver powerful success in the energy sector it is essential to have an ecosystem that offers the combination of: education, training, support for start-ups and SMEs from proof of-concept stage through to commercialisation, in an environment where funding, research facilities and the right commercial accommodation are present.
The EnergyTec Cluster aims to become a global hub for innovation and Harwell is perfectly placed to be the catalyst for accelerating the UK’s energy capabilities with its distinguished heritage in energy research and many world firsts, including its innovation and commercialisation roles in battery research. With further growth in mind, the cluster already unites over 30 industry, academic and public organisations in an ecosystem where fundamental research is rapidly accelerated through to successful commercial outputs and into high-tech manufacturing. Core areas of focus for the cluster will include energy storage and battery technologies, carbon neutral alternatives to fossil fuels and smart technologies that will shape the future of carbon-free building design. These innovations and their derivatives will influence every aspect of life across work, leisure and recreation, improving the environment and developing sustainable alternatives for the future.
Dr Barbara Ghinelli, UKRI-STFC Director of Campus Business Development and Cluster Lead commented on the launch: “The Harwell EnergyTec Cluster is part of a well-established entrepreneurial ecosystem that facilitates collaboration and risk sharing, makes it easier to attract new investments and gain economies of scale whilst also tapping into a pool of highly-skilled people.”
The Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The way we live, travel and work is changing rapidly with the development and adoption of new technologies. The UK leads the world in tackling climate change and batteries will form a cornerstone of our future low carbon economy. This landmark investment to launch the Faraday Institution and Harwell EnergyTec Cluster, through our Modern Industrial Strategy, ensures the UK will lead the world in powering the next global energy revolution.”
Founding Executive Chair of the Faraday Institution, Professor Peter Littlewood, commented “The next generation of energy storage innovations will come from the next generation of scientists and engineers. Investing in training and technical education will not only advance the UKs energy capabilities but it addresses current inequalities of opportunity in the workplace and by working with industry we can bring secure, well-paying jobs to the whole of the country, at all skill levels.”
To help meet these objectives, Littlewood announced the creation of the Michael Faraday Scholars Programme, an undergraduate scholarship for meritorious students from financially and socially disenfranchised backgrounds who wish to pursue science and technology degrees with an emphasis on energy storage science or engineering. “The scholars programme is named after Michael Faraday in tribute to his application-inspired spirit. Faraday rose from the working class, in a time when science was reserved for the elite, to become one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century. Brilliant and self-made, he devoted his life to discovery through experimentation,” said Littlewood. The scholarship programme, available to students attending participating universities in the United Kingdom, will officially open in June and will cover tuition costs over 4 years.
Professor Bill David, Professor at the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford and at UKRI-STFC’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Harwell Campus, was part of John Goodenough’s team who worked on the discovery of the modern lithium-ion battery in the early 1980s; he added: “There is a recognised worldwide imperative to move to green and clean energy solutions and the UK is well placed to make major contributions to this global grand challenge. The Faraday Institution and the Harwell Campus are key exemplars of initiatives that will educate, enable and inspire new generations of UK scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to invent, innovate and commercialise radically new solutions that will create UK jobs, UK companies and global solutions. Many of the new and innovative UK energy storage companies can trace their origins back to Harwell – the education of new generations of energy experts will retain and grow this critical future component of UK industry.”
Working with the Government to find solutions to the Industrial Strategy Challenges, this latest Harwell cluster follows the development of successful Space and Life Sciences clusters. With £246 million of government investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for the Faraday Battery Challenge over four years, UK researchers and industrialists can seize the opportunities presented by the move to a low carbon economy.