Shaping the UK’s power electronics, machines and drives industry

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Upon hearing the words driving the electric revolution, most people think about cars. But they’re wrong, our work spreads even wider.

Here we explore the impact the driving the electric revolution challenge is having on the UK’s power electronics, machines and drives (PEMD) industry.

As we move through 2023 and beyond, resiliency is vital to ensure economic growth. ​At driving the electric revolution we’re ensuring the UK has a resilient supply chain for the PEMD industry.

PEMD are the components that underpin electrification. So without PEMD, net zero is not possible, and without driving the electric revolution, PEMD manufacturing will not happen at scale in the UK.

Our £80 million investment into the UK’s PEMD industry supports the UK’s push towards a net zero carbon economy. We’ve released £95 million of co-investment so far and have just begun to see the impact of our investments, as it’s early days for our largest research and development projects.

Supporting and strengthening UK industry

By working across UK sectors we’re ensuring electrification supply chains are strengthened and developed, making sure that UK manufacturing can play a significant part in achieving net zero.

It’s clear UK organisations want to play an important part in this. Our last funding round had exceptional interest and uptake from industry. We were at least two times oversubscribed and attracted submissions from companies new to the driving the electric revolution community.

So far, we’ve invested around £67 million into 86 projects and over 140 organisations across the UK. Our projects are growing the market size and content of the UK PEMD industry, with 59% already contributing to the supply chain value. Over 70% of our projects can already demonstrate their impact on decarbonisation through electric vehicle innovations or other means.

From the challenge’s funding, we’ve given around 78% to industrial partners with about 56% of this going to small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) companies.

The effort, delivery, and outcomes from the projects we’ve supported has been incredible.

Creating impact

We know success relies heavily on the investment made into funded projects through competitions, and with this the challenge does not have a fund and forget attitude. In the years to come, we expect to see direct impact of a wide range of benefits here in the UK, such as projects creating over 120 new jobs by 2025.

Although many of the benefits will only be fully realised over the long term, we can already see impact emerging from our interventions. For example two of our significant investments, the Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centres equipment continues to become available, with industrial partners across the country now benefiting from these facilities.

Furthermore, the Electric Revolution Skills Hub has launched a centralised activity to increase visibility and opportunity for up-skilling and re-skilling in these exciting technologies.

Building a community

Thanks to the driving the electric revolution ‘Engage with…’ series we’ve grown the UK PEMD community to over 2,500 people. Run by Innovate UK KTN this weekly webinar series brought people together during the COVID-19 pandemic to:

  • connect
  • collaborate
  • explore opportunities together

We have seen 125 new introductions made to date by people attending our events and exploring future opportunities for partnerships, collaborations and projects together.

Connecting the supply chain

The network outreach and connection building we’re doing provides visibility for many SMEs and we encouraged partnership working in our competitions. Some of these collaborative working partnerships and value chains had not previously been considered by organisations before engaging with the community.

Backed by our industrialisation centres network and partners, we’ve successfully facilitated collaborative working relationships across the UK PEMD sector. Many SMEs we’ve supported continue their working relationships with other companies in the network, research and technology organisations or academic institutions beyond the lifecycle of their initial project.

We found that 93% of surveyed respondents said their project enabled new cross-sector or end-to-end supply chain linkages, where previously this networking opportunity would not have taken place.

Focusing on growth

By growing the UK’s capability of in PEMD supply chains and manufacturing, we aim to support making the UK a global leader in the manufacture of core technologies which underpin electrification. Through our cohort network, we hope to continue to secure opportunities for companies to flourish and find new routes to markets they may not have considered before.

Our interventions have started to address the shortage of skills in PEMD industries, with the Electric Revolution Skills Hub at Coventry University and 28 projects now funded across the skills landscape. But we know there is more to do.

Find out more about the work we do in our annual report.

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Top image:  Credit: Petmal, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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