Call us stubborn optimists but look beyond the general doom and gloom in the news and you’ll find plenty to cheer, especially if you happen to have your finger on the pulse of some of the most significant global industries. August’s news highlights see the UK positioning itself to take centre stage in technological and power development, with a smattering of other upbeat fare.
British consortium established to develop prototype solid-state batteries
Seven UK-based organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in the development of world-leading solid-state battery technology with automotive applications. They are: the Faraday Institution; Britishvolt; E+R; Johnson Matthey; Oxford University; the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre and WMG, University of Warwick.
Solid-state batteries could play a significant role in helping the UK meet its net zero commitments through the electrification of transport. The aim of the collaboration is to harness and industrialise UK academic capability to produce cells using scalable manufacturing techniques that leapfrog the cost-effectiveness and performance achieved elsewhere.
James Goodfield: How to be an ace engineer.
We love this Autosport interview with James Goodfield, titled ‘’How to be an ace engineer”, which contains some great advice for would-be motorsport engineers.
Goodfield has achieved a lot in his motorsport career to date, from winning the Safari Rally to working in a Formula 1 team’s R&D department and race engineering in the DTM grand touring car series. Graduating from Cardiff University in 1997, Goodfield wrote to “every employer I could think of” and joined M-Sport as it was the only company that replied. He enjoyed four productive years with the Ford World Rally Championship squad and played a key role in developing the new-for-1999 Focus – a Safari winner in only its third rally – under a technical group led by current Haas F1 boss Gunther Steiner. It’s quite a bio, and a lesson for anyone interested in joining motorsport.
Read it here: autosport.com
Manufacturing & Tech
WECV: one to watch
There’s more good news for British EV manufacturing as Cornwall start-up, the Watt Electric Vehicle Company (WECV) announces it will build next-generation commercial vehicles on a new state-of-the-art platform that minimises weight and costs.
Headquartered in St Columb Major, the firm intends to build up to 5,000 commercial EVs per year from 2023, using a new platform named the Passenger and Commercial EV Skateboard (Paces). It’s likely Paces will provide the basis for a range of bespoke, customisable 'last-mile' vans, trucks and buses, each as light as possible thanks to an innovative layout where the battery is housed within the structure of the vehicle.
Stand by for massive hydrogen push
The government has committed to support the UK’s development of hydrogen power, with the launch of an ambitious new strategy that aims to invest £4bn and create 9,000 jobs by 2030. The UK’s first-ever Hydrogen strategy will build on the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution which could see the UK producing 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
Though the booming hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million by 2030, it is hoped its value will soar further; by 2050 it could create 100,000 jobs and be worth £13 billion, with the potential for hydrogen to eventually provide a third of the UK’s energy.
Exec & Leaders
Mate Rimac takes the helm in Porsche JV.
Mate Rimac will take the helm in a JV with Porsche in which his company has the majority stake; his tech and supercar company Rimac Automobili has announced a joint venture with Porsche to take control of Bugatti.
Owned by parent company Volkswagen Group, Bugatti delivers about 80 vehicles globally each year. Rimac has characterized the acquisition as "removing some distractions" from VW.
Rimac holds a 55 percent stake in Bugatti-Rimac (the remainder is owned by Porsche) and will take the helm of the JV while Porsche's Oliver Blume and Lutz Meschke will join a supervisory board for the company. The move means the company's premium marques are now divided into those aligned with Rimac, which includes Porsche and Bugatti, and those such as Audi and Bentley that are likely to continue using VW's own electric components.
Newcastle University alumni promote women in STEM
Two former Newcastle University students have set up a charity to promote the increased representation of women in science careers by financially supporting them through a science-based degree.
Promoting Women In Science was established as a charity in 2020 by Newcastle alumni Imran Ahmed (Genetics, 1988) and Sadia Nujhat (Law, 1988). They have recently partnered with Newcastle University and the EY Foundation to launch a new scholarship opportunity for young women from disadvantaged backgrounds to study towards a STEM degree at Newcastle University.
STEM education is vitally important to the UK economy, with a shortage of talent in critical roles. A recent report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology estimated the loss to the UK economy of £1.5 bn per year due to STEM skill shortages. Participation of women in many STEM subjects is low and even lower for those from a disadvantaged background, meaning these women miss out on the opportunity to access those exciting and high-earning career opportunities.