Joint Interim CEOs Susan Robertson and Matt Howard share their thoughts on our community’s achievements during lockdown and as researchers return to labs, and the place for the Faraday Institution in the UK’s green recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the world and, closer to home, on the community we have worked to establish over the past two years. We want to express our thanks to every member of our community for the commitment you have shown to our research projects, industrial interactions, educational endeavours and to one another. Each of us has been affected directly and differently. Most of us have been asked to work from our homes and to quickly develop new modes of interacting and working with one another, which has been particularly challenging for those with caring responsibilities.
The commitment, leadership and extraordinary challenging work we have collectively experienced over the past few months is something our entire community can take pride in.
Though the Faraday Institution community is newly formed and growing, we set out on day one to define ourselves by a commitment to be pioneering, visionary and resilient and this year these values have been thoroughly tested. Yet despite the disruption, we have seen consistent excellence in science and research, growing clarity and focus towards the industrial application of our work, and increased recognition of the importance of including those of diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Our commitment to our values has allowed us to confront the complex global challenges we are facing, and to live our values through our day-to-day actions.
We have learned from this new situation and hope to carry these new approaches forward so that they can be of value in other circumstances. Our community has not been idle. Research plans have been reprofiled and groups have developed technical and scientific roadmaps so that we can be more productive when experimental labs reopen. There has been much effort put into analysing existing datasets, writing up the backlog of results into papers, conducting literature and IP reviews, identifying state-of-the-art technology, formulating professional development plans and accessing continuing professional development opportunities. We will be stronger because of this effort.
The Faraday Institution team has also been working very hard on your behalf. We are working in partnership with BEIS, UKRI and EPSRC on a one-year funding package to carry our research forward through to March of 2022. This is the first step toward a full research extension as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, which would extend our funding an additional five years beyond this horizon. We were founded with an aspiration for a 10-year programme, a realistic estimate of the time needed to make research breakthroughs and to commercialise them for the benefit of the UK economy. Funding renewal over this timescale is sought to provide the environment where innovation can thrive and where a world class research community can grow from a stable base over the next decade. This is what is needed to realise the full potential of the Faraday Institution research community and the potential of the UK as a globally recognised beacon for battery research.
We have seen real support for these efforts at the highest levels of government. In early July, following the Prime Minister’s speech on a new deal for Britain in which he recognises the role of battery innovation to enable a clean, green recovery, the Faraday Institution’s work was included in the UK Research and Development Roadmap, a clear signal that the work of our community is recognised.
Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will read about our efforts to increase community and skills development; to grow our research talent pipeline; to develop diversity, be inclusive and strive for equality; to plan for future research programmes to best position the UK for an energy storage led future, and to strengthen our links to industry organisations.
While there was disruption to experimental progress, more and more researchers are now moving back to lab working, and in Allan Paterson’s update, he outlines how, due to the efforts of our community during lockdown, projects remain largely on track to meet their original goals, and how we are building resilience into the projects to maintain productivity as much as possible in case of future shocks.
As a final important note, we want to express our profound thanks, appreciation, and admiration for your work and commitment to the Faraday Institution mission and aspirations.
Matt Howard and Susan Robertson
Joint Interim Chief Executive Officers
The Faraday Institution