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Wednesday 29th March

Australian start-up Recharge Industries to save Britishvolt

US-funded Aussie start-up swoops in after £120m collapse of UK battery company

Published: 06 Feb 2023

An Australian company, backed by a US fund, has outbid rivals to rescue the plans to build a giant production facility for electric vehicle batteries in the North East of England. Britishvolt, which had partnership agreements with Aston Martin and Lotus, among others, to supply next-gen high performance batteries went into administration in January 2023.

Cited as the preferred bidder for the takeover of Britishvolt, Recharge Industries has pledged an investment of £3.8 billion, which is enough to cover the debts of £120 million owed by the failed British start-up… and then some.

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Recharge Industries, which currently has the construction of a ‘gigafactory’ underway in Geelong, Australia, is funded by Scale Facilitation, which is based out of New York.

If or when the UK gigafactory is finally built, it is set to be one of the top five biggest buildings in the UK - three times the size of Nissan Sunderland.

David A. Collard, founder of Recharge Industries and chief executive of Scale Facilitation, said: “We’re thrilled to be progressing with our proposed bid for Britishvolt and can’t wait to get started making a reality of our plans to build the UK’s first gigafactory. After a competitive and rigorous process, we’re confident our proposal will deliver a strong outcome for all involved.”

What do we know about Recharge Industries?

Recharge Industries has a number of persuasive notches on its belt, despite its youth. Established in 2021, it only scouted its Australian battery factory location in August 2022. It’s funded by Scale Facilitation, a fund which invests in high-tech innovations within medical and green energy fields. Scale Facilitation has a fast-track advantage, supported by the Australian government as a ‘Priority Project’ and it has recruited retired forces guys to scale up its operations, which goes some way to explaining why everything seems to move efficiently at breakneck speed. Both investor and innovator have turned this takeover proposal around in less than two weeks.

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Most importantly, its intellectual property (IP) was ‘developed under the guidance of’ Nottingham-born scientist Professor M. Stanley Whittingham. Whittingham is the Nobel Laureate for Chemistry and recognised as the founding father of lithium-ion batteries.

What do we know about Britishvolt?

It was founded in 2019 and set to be the darling of automotive futures, achieving ‘unicorn’ start-up status with a valuation of more than a billion dollars.

Britishvolt’s ambition is/was large-scale - the only way battery production could be sufficiently cost-effective to be successful. A planned ex-power station site in Blyth, Northumberland, would produce 30 gigawatt hours (GWh) of batteries annually and create thousands of jobs across the UK. Enough to supply hundreds of vehicles, some batteries would be exported, then returned back to another site in the South of England to be recycled.

Whether progress was thwarted by the pandemic or by money mismanagement - cited by several reports since collapse - (and probably a mix-up of all-of-the-above) Britishvolt went into administration in January 2023 after running out of money and resulted in hundreds of redundancies.

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Now, the value of Britishvolt is said to lie in its IP. Guess we’ll wait and see.

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