Innovate UK CLIMATES at REPM 2023: event review
The Rare Earth Permanent Magnets conference is a biannual event bringing together the research community in permanent magnetism alongside a significant industry presence.
At the 2023 event Innovate UK’s Circular Critical Materials Supply Chains (CLIMATES) programme team hosted two events. The first highlighted the opportunities available for the investor community due to the increased demand for rare earth permanent magnets in applications such as electric vehicles (EVs) and wind turbines. The second focused on international critical mineral strategies and cross-border collaboration opportunities, discussing the goal of building resilient supply chains.
Watch all the recordings from the event in the playlist below, or read on for a round-up of key topics discussed during the conference.
The session brought together representatives of the critical materials and rare-earth supply chain community to explore market and investment opportunities in the UK, network with key finance, industry academic and government stakeholders and hear from industry leaders.
Will Drury, Director of Digital and Technologies and Driving the Electric Revolution Challenge Director at Innovate UK, outlined Innovate UK’s strategic delivery plan for creating and enabling a just transition to Net Zero. He explained that, crucial to achieving this ambition, are the critical minerals required to decarbonise the transport, energy and industrial sectors.
A cohort of minerals crucial for the UK have been identified including lithium, tungsten and cobalt in the 2022 Resilience for the Future: The United Kingdom’s Critical Minerals Strategy report. The report was discussed by Katherine Bennet CBE, Chair of the Critical Minerals Task & Finish Group and CEO at High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Katherine outlined the goal of the UK strategy to support UK industry and to promote resilience and diversity in their supply chains.
Alongside government support, the critical minerals supply chain requires private sector stimulation to enable companies to scale and innovate sustainably. Julien Tregar, CEO at CoTec Holdings, spoke about the investment thesis that CoTec has adopted with regards to the responsible mineral’s extraction space. As an ESG-focused company, CoTec seeks to acquire innovative technologies which can fundamentally change the method with which minerals can be extracted, processed and utilised.
Utilised in electric vehicles, consumer electronics and wind turbines, permanent magnets made from rare earth elements and more, the market for critical minerals spans multiple industries. Tom Whitehouse, CEO at Leif Capital outlined the increasing appetite amongst investors to back early-stage companies within this growing market.
Over the coming months, the CLIMATES programme will be delivering a series of events to address the growing appetite amongst investors interested in critical materials and to facilitate connections between investors and innovators operating in this space. Megan Phoenix, Knowledge Transfer Manager for Investor Communities at Innovate UK KTN discussed these activities in more detail, outlining how you can get involved.
On Thursday 14 November, we are running an exclusive virtual pitch event to connect investors to top innovators within circular critical materials. The start-ups pitching will be hand-selected from those developing innovative solutions to circularity in batteries, magnets, wind turbines, electrolysers, fuel cells, and more. You can register here for the event and read more about our work on the Private Investor Landscape here.
International Networking Reception
As the west begins to appreciate the importance of critical mineral supply chains in meeting its net zero and sustainability policy objectives, international collaboration is more important than ever. Coordination of R&D, investment and policy activities is vital to enable the efficient building of the resilient supply chains of the future.
Working with the Critical Minerals International Alliance (CMIA) to facilitate this, government representatives from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and Kazakhstan shared their perspectives on the critical mineral’s issues, their domestic critical mineral strategies and where there could be opportunities for collaboration.
Jeff Townsend from the CMIA summarised the critical mineral challenges facing the world today. Francesca Price from the Department of Business and Trade outlined the main pillars of the UK’s Critical Minerals Strategy and Martyn Cherrington from Innovate UK outlined the activities and funding from the CLIMATES programme.
Delegates heard from the following foreign representatives:
- Brian Hyland, Senior Business Development manager at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, highlighted Australia’s work to expand their rare earth supply chain based on their domestic extraction capability and building on their position as the world’s fourth largest producer.
- Marcin Zydowicz, Trade Commissioner for Energy and Mining at the Canadian High Commission, highlighted Canada’s drive to develop domestic extraction capability as well as mid-stream and downstream manufacturing capability to take advantage of the opportunity presented by critical minerals.
- Hiroki Yokote, manager of the London office of the Japanese state investment company JOGMEC, explained how JOGMEC are taking part in joint venture operations in several countries to diversify rare earth supply chains, and how policy interventions and R&D have allowed to Japan to become less dependent on China for rare earth supply.
- Nurmakhambet Smagul, Third Secretary, Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK, communicated Kazakhstan’s efforts to develop their domestic extraction industry by inviting in foreign investment, and how they see their involvement in international mineral supply chains increasing over the coming years.
- Rachael Parrish, Foreign Service Officer, Department of State, US Embassy, highlighted several key recent interventions from the White House to bolster US domestic capabilities in rare earth extraction and permanent magnet manufacturing capability, and how they would work with other countries to ensure security of supply for the US and its allies.
Through the session it became clear there is a need to collaborate and desire to do so; there was also alignment between all parties involved, and the connections made will be built upon through Innovate UK’s CLIMATES programme and related Critical Minerals activities.
One example of this collaboration is the upcoming UK-Canada bilateral funding call on critical minerals. To learn more about this and find partners, sign up to the UK-Canada Critical Minerals Online Collaboration Forum here.
These two events brought together the investor community with industry and highlighted the international collaboration opportunities. The development of rare earth supply chains utilising either primary or secondary sources will require industry and academia to collaborate alongside a supportive private investor landscape to enable scale-up. Supply chains are unlikely to be country specific, as such international cooperation and collaboration will be required to build supply chains across nations.
Through the CLIMATES programme, Innovate UK will be delivering further activities to support investment into Critical Mineral supply chains and develop international collaborations.
To find out about our upcoming and ongoing activities sign-up to our mailing list here.
Circular Critical Materials Supply Chains
This £15 million programme will support the development of resilient UK based supply chains for rare earth elements, with a focus on primary (mine to magnet) and secondary (End of Life to magnet) supply chains.