Britain has unveiled a GBP28m (US$36m) National Centre of Excellence in the Midlands city of Coventry to develop electric car battery technology.

The GBP28m cash injection in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is a further step for the UK’s ambition to build a Gigafactory large-scale battery facility for electric vehicles.

The investment, through the Industrial Strategy’s Challenge Fund, comes on top of an GBP80m initial investment in the centre, which will provide testing facilities for new battery technologies. The investment will also provide practical training to up-skill people in battery manufacturing.

The Local Industrial Strategy sets out a long-term vision for the region to increase productivity – including how the West Midlands can harness the next developments in automotive technologies, such as electric vehicles and driverless cars.

“Putting the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles is at the heart of our plans; creating jobs, growth and opportunity across the country,” said UK Business Minister, Andrew Stephenson. 

“Driven by the potential of fast-paced development of battery technology this investment puts the UK – amongst a handful of countries around the world – on the next step to meet the challenge by the future of mobility.”

Designed in the West Midlands in collaboration with government , the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy builds on the region’s core strengths, sectors at the heart of the region such as automotive, advanced manufacturing and life sciences and aims to create new opportunities for people and businesses.

Together, government and UK Research and Innovation, have provided support to businesses and groups in the West Midlands, including investing more than GBP1bn in the region since 2016. 

“This new facility will allow the UK to prepare our home-grown battery technologies for global competitiveness,” said Faraday Battery Challenge Director at UK Research and Innovation, Tony Harper.

“This additional investment will mean its ambitious facilities will be expanded and improved to meet the soaring demand of the electric vehicle global market.”

The news comes as the government holds the next round of bidding for its flagship Strength in Places Fund, a GBP236m fund bringing together research organisations, businesses and local authorities to develop ideas to deliver local economic growth and create high-value jobs.