Investment boost for three industrial strategy challenge funds

Workers on a construction site with a crane

The government is extending funding through its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, managed by UKRI, to three challenge areas that are developing solutions for key global challenges, including climate change, disease and ageing societies.

The UK will be further cemented as a global home for future technologies across battery development, advanced medical treatments and robotic solutions thanks to a £65 million cash boost, Science Minister Amanda Solloway announced today.

The £65 million investment includes:

  • almost £44 million allocated to the government’s Faraday Battery challenge to develop the next generation of high performance batteries for electric vehicles and wind turbines, which could also be used for new technologies such as electric aeroplanes
    • The funding will also be used to complete a first-of-its-kind UK battery industrialisation centre, in Coventry, West Midlands, creating 100 high-skilled jobs. It will also enable the Faraday Institution to continue funding quality research and advances in battery technology
  • £15 million additional funding for 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
    • The robotic solutions 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
  • allocating £6.5 million to the Advanced Therapy Treatment Centre (ATTC) network to fund an additional 12 months of the programme
    • The funding will support additional initiatives through to March 2022 and continuation of certain centre and network projects which were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
    • These centres are funded through the Medicines Manufacturing challenge and coordinated by the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult.

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.

The announcement today confirms our commitment and determination to build on the hard-won progress the UK has made in the last three years on all these fronts and to accelerate progress post COVID-19.

Robots for a Safer World Challenge Director Andrew Tyrer said:

I am delighted that government has provided an extra £15 million funding to help academics and businesses bridge the gap to complete ongoing delivery of the challenge, and also utilise knowledge gained to the benefit of new sectors, such as agriculture, construction, logistics and healthcare.

Andy Jones, Medicines Manufacturing Challenge Director, said:

When we set up ATTC we expected them to play a key role in not only bringing advanced medicines to people suffering from life limiting illnesses, but in establishing the UK as a foremost centre for life sciences. One in eight worldwide clinical trials in advanced therapies now take place in the UK and nearly 60 specialist companies are headquartered here.

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. I welcome the extra funding which will allow the UK’s cell and gene therapy industry to continue to grow at pace and volume.

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