Future technologies that could transform people’s lives—such as robotics for nuclear plants and renewable energy, high-performance batteries for electric vehicles and aeroplanes, and advanced medical treatments—are to receive a boost in the form of £65 million in extra funding, the UK government has announced.
The funding will be made available through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which has now been extended to help develop solutions to some of today’s most pressing global challenges, including the tackling of climate change and life-limiting diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
The government says that the £65 million cash injection will help to make the UK the global home for future technologies in these areas.
Where’s the Money Going?
A significant chunk of the funding, which will be managed by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI)—to the tune of almost £44 million—is set to go to the Faraday Battery Challenge, which is exploring the development of next-generation, high performance batteries.
Tony Harper of The Faraday Battery Challenge said: ‘”In order for batteries to play their full environmental and economic role in achieving Net Zero, we need to deploy at scale and build supply chains for today’s technology, shift from strong potential to commercial dominance in a new generation of batteries, and continue to build world-class scientific capability to sustain us into the future”.
Some of the funding will also be used to complete the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre in Coventry, which is exploring the challenges of taking new battery technologies into production.
The £108 million Battery Industrialisation Centre currently under construction in Coventry. Image Credit: Business & Innovation Magazine.
In terms of robotics, £15 million will be provided to the Robots for a Safer World challenge, also managed by UKRI, which is looking at developing robotics solutions for hazardous industries and extreme environments (such as nuclear power plants), as well as other areas including logistics and healthcare.
Finally, the remaining £6.5 million is going to the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (ATTC) programme, a network of centres tasked with developing and delivering advanced medical treatments to patients. These are primarily cell and gene-based therapies, which are aimed at the treatment of life-limiting and inherited diseases, such as cancer, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, or cystic fibrosis.
A Boost for the UK Economy
The portion of the funding, which is destined to help in the completion of the £108 million, first-of-its-kind UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, will also help to provide a much-needed boost to the UK economy. Not only will it help to enable the Faraday Institution to further its research and advance battery technologies, but it will also create 100 skilled jobs.
The Institution predicts that the workforce in the UK’s automotive and electric vehicle battery sectors will see a growth of up to 29% by 2040—that’s up to 220,000 from 170,000.
With this funding, the government is furthering its commitment, via its own research and development roadmap, to put the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge and transformational technologies. The funding also forms part of the government’s wider commitment to increase R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.
Indeed, at a time when much uncertainty exists surrounding the UK’s political and commercial viability in a post-Brexit world, further UK innovations in these key areas could prove priceless.