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Faraday Institution opens North East regional office in Newcastle University

The North East has cemented its position as a key centre for research and innovation in battery development after the Faraday Institution announced the opening of a regional office.

Known as Faraday Institution North East (FINE), the office will be based in Newcastle University and led by Prof Colin Herron, MD of Zero Carbon Futures (ZCF).

The move will see FINE bring together a range of organisations involved in battery innovation, including research and innovation centres, education and skills bodies, regional and national government and policy representatives.

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Battery cell manufacturers and their supply chain partners will also be involved, working together to seek opportunities and accelerate innovation.

The success of this pilot will also enable the Faraday Institution to explore opportunities to strengthen regional engagement on energy storage in other parts of the UK.

Mr Herron – who will be supported at FINE by Lois Warne, project manager at low carbon vehicles specialist ZCF – is professor of practice at Newcastle University and has 48 years’ automotive industry experience.

Newcastle University acquired (ZCF), which provides insight into low carbon vehicles and associated technologies, last November.

Mr Herron started as a tool room apprentice and spent 17 years at Nissan before moving into public sector, civil service, further education and higher education roles. He has close links with industry and has served on the Faraday Institution’s Training and Diversity Panel since its inception in 2018.

Faraday Institution CEO, Prof Pam Thomas, said: “The research and industrial strength of the North East of England will be absolutely vital to enable the UK to fully transition to an electrified future – from transport and aviation to power generation and distribution.

“The goal of the FINE office is to further integrate the region’s battery ecosystem to clear the path from research bench to innovation and commercial manufacture so that the UK can prosper in this energy transformation.”

FINE will look to become involved in regional conversations around energy storage research, skills development, regional policy, commercialisation, innovation and industrial collaboration.

It will specifically look at accessing the best battery science and engineering from regional university research and innovation centres, and identify areas of strength for potential collaboration and funding.

The team will also look to identify additional areas of industry where the Faraday Institution and companies based in the region could connect, while also ensuring the national programme led by the Faraday Institution is positioned in ways that are supportive of regional initiatives.

Prof Brian Walker, pro-vice-chancellor for research strategy and resources of Newcastle University, said: “Major announcements by Envision AESC and Britishvolt in the past year have signalled to the world that the North East is a critical region for batteries.

“Establishing the FINE office in Newcastle University is a reflection of the research strengths that we have available to enable an expansion of training and innovation in batteries, alongside our leadership in electrification of transport through the Driving the Electric Revolution centre.

“This development along with many others, demonstrates Newcastle University’s commitment to seek out short and long-term solutions to the challenges associated with climate change.”

Earlier this year the university appointed Matt Boyle, former head of electric vehicle firm Sevcon and now at Turntide Technologies transport division, as a professor of practice in engineering to help drive its work in electric vehicles.

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