News & Analysis

Has Britishvolt been saved? Battery tech startup given funding lifeline

22nd November 2022
Paige West

After government refusal to advance funding, Britishvolt has now secured cash to keep the startup afloat for the short to medium term.

Founded in 2019, Britishvolt plans to build the UK’s first battery Gigaplant – designing and manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles.

The company selected a site up in the northeast of England which was previously a coal fire power station. With 93 hectares of space, permission was granted around July/August last year to build.

Currently, the startup has close to 300 employees working for the company and plans for many thousands of further jobs to be created as plans progress.

The government championed the project from the outset, pledging £100 million to help build the plant as well as attract more private investment. At the time, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the investment as a “levelling up opportunity”.

Unfortunately, Britishvolt has been forced to delay the start of production quite a few times due to “difficult external economical headwinds”.

Now, more turmoil has hit the company when it was understood they wanted to draw down nearly a third of the government funding early, but it was refused.

The company initially struggled to find investors to continue to fund its efforts to build the £3.8 billion plant – putting 300 jobs on the line.

To reduce near-term costs, employees voluntarily agreed to a temporary salary reduction for the month of November.

Peter Rolton, Chairman of Britishvolt, told the BBC that he didn’t want to “sell the site” or “give away the company”.

However, it is now understood that the startup has secured cash to keep it afloat for the short to medium term. The Financial Times has reported that this cash injection will be enough to last until early December.

In a recent business update, Britishvolt stated: “We have previously spoken about the need to evolve our business strategy in response to challenging external factors and continue to explore both short- and long-term funding streams that will enable us to deliver on our plans to build a thriving localised, sustainable battery ecosystem based on next-generation cell technology.

“While the weakening economic situation is negatively impacting much business investment at present, at Britishvolt we are continuing to pursue positive ongoing discussions with potential investors. In addition, we have also received promising approaches from several more international investors in the past few days.

“The result is we have now secured the necessary near-term investment that we believe enables us to bridge over the coming weeks to a more secure funding position for the future.”

There has been considerable concern, understandably, over the future of the startup. The project plans to bring numerous, highly skilled job to an area that has often been under invested and, this alone, will help to drive the industry forward. Britishvolt has a vital role to play in the future of the UK battery industry and the uncertainty over it’s survival should indeed be concerning.

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