Here’s our roundup of news from the last month! Meanwhile, we hope you’re staying safe, and don’t forget to get in touch if we can help you with career advice in our markets.
Lawrence Stroll completes Aston Martin investment
Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll has completed his purchase of a 25% stake in Aston Martin and formally taken up his new role as Executive Chairman. Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff is also on board as part of a further investor consortium. Stroll had initially agreed to take a 16.7% stake in the company for £182 million, but the brand’s tumbling share prices led to the preparation of a revised deal which means he now owns a quarter of the company.
Stroll has committed to “forging the foundations of a bright future” by building on the strengths of the firm’s brand, engineering and skills. Initial plans include fulfilling over 2,500 pre-orders for the DBX SUV, with further plans to produce electric cars that blend performance and luxury as well as a shorter-term strategy to continue developing mid-engine cars.
Stroll has also announced plans to enter Aston Martin in Formula 1 from next year, though it has been stressed that this is no way compromises Toto Wolff’s role as a private investor in the brand.
Manufacturing & Tech
£65million vaccine centre fast-tracked
A new vaccine manufacturing facility will be fast-tracked into construction in Harwell, Oxfordshire. The £65million, 7,000 square-metre Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will open its doors in 2021, a year earlier than scheduled, as part of the national effort to tackle coronavirus.
The centre is a collaboration between the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre, Harwell Campus, Vale of the White Horse District Council and the government’s UK Research and Innovation body. The centre’s team of engineers and scientists are already working “round the clock” on manufacturing options for a possible vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, with Business Secretary Alok Sharma stating that “we will be ready to manufacture a vaccine in the millions” when a breakthrough is made, with the centre a crucial tool in the fight against the coronavirus.
The centre will host some 6,000 people from 225 different organisations.
McLaren explains "difficult" decision to furlough F1 team staff
Earlier this month McLaren announced it would furlough many of its team temporarily due to the financial uncertainty currently facing F1. The brand’s F1 chief Andreas Seidl said the move was imperative if the team was to safeguard its future amid continuing uncertainty about when the 2020 season would begin.
McLaren has introduced pay cuts for staff including its drivers, and has also put on hold major infrastructure projects such as a new wind tunnel and simulator, with the entire factory in full shutdown with the exception of ventilator production. With the opening nine races of the 2020 F1 season called off, there is still little indication of when racing may begin.
Ilika receives £15 million in equity funding to expand EV battery production
Ilika Technologies has extended its product roadmap to develop large-format Goliath Pouch Cells after receiving £15 million in equity funding from a mixture of the government’s Faraday Battery Challenge Fund and UK-based institutional shareholders. Currently producing its Stereax batteries in Southampton, it will implement a partnering model with third-party fabrication facilities to produce Stereax at scale, using the funding to buy manufacturing equipment.
Ilika’s CEO Graeme Purdy believes the finding presents an opportunity to “address exciting global markets”.
Robotic Automation firm could have one of the biggest IPOs of 2021, says CEO.
UiPath specializes in robotic process automation (RPA) a technology that automates mundane tasks, like processing job applications. During the pandemic it has gained attention as hospitals use the technology to decrease the amount of administrative work for front-line employees. As part of the burgeoning automation market it is already valued at $7 billion, and has announced a bold plan to go public in 2021. CEO Daniel Dines says the company is now “closer to being profitable now than we were three months ago” and that if the firm hits it targets it will have “one of the biggest IPOs of 2021”.