UK cash boost for batteries, robots and medical technology

Science minister Amanda Solloway has announced that the UK government is to pump £65m of  additional funding into battery development, advanced medical treatments and robotics technology.

The funding, which is being made through the governments Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and which will be managed by UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), includes almost £44m for the Faraday Battery Challenge, which – as previously reported by The Engineer – is exploring and driving the development of next generation high performance batteries. This funding will also be used to complete the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, in Coventry, West Midlands, which is exploring the challenges of taking new battery technologies into production.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
An additional £44m will be invested in the Faraday Battery Challenge. Image: ra2 studio via

Tony Harper, Challenge Director for 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.”

A further £15m funding is being targeted at the Robots for a Safer World challenge, to develop robotic solutions for hazardous industries, such as a nuclear power plants, as well as areas including agriculture, logistics and healthcare. UKRI claims that technologies developed through the challenge will be able to address new problems resulting from the pandemic like contact-free deliveries and provide solutions ranging from delivery drones and driverless vehicles to robots that move hospital beds.

The remaining £6.5m of Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund cash is being pumped into the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (ATTC) programme, a network of centres – funded through the Medicines Manufacturing Challenge – tasked with bringing pioneering medical treatments such as gene therapies to patients.

“The centres are developing the systems to support advanced therapies, so that the NHS can treat a wide range of conditions, including cancer, blindness and rare diseases in children,” said Andy Jones, medicines manufacturing challenge director. “I welcome the extra funding which will allow the UK’s cell and gene therapy industry to continue to grow at pace and volume.”