Australia’s potential to become a central player in the value-added export of battery minerals, materials, technologies and expertise is a step closer to being fulfilled following the confirmation of a high-calibre national Board for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC).
As the country’s peak research and development body in the field, the FBICRC has a key role to play in supporting the development of battery industries in Australia with ~$130 million of cash and in-kind support from industry, academic and government participants under the guidance of the Board.
Chief Executive Officer Stedman Ellis said appointment of a high calibre independent Board is key to making the most of a global battery boom never seen before. It will strengthen the longer-term ambition and focus of the CRC as it moves closer to funding its initial five flagship research projects due in the coming weeks.
“FBICRC has sought during its establishment to respond to the clear message from industry that it should get on with it given the dynamics of the global battery industry,” Mr Ellis said.
“Our focus is now finalising all participant agreements and funding the first phase of an initial five flagship research projects to progress through to full project proposal stage and into a phase of substantive research aligned with the needs of our industry partners.
“In addition, a pipeline of further flagship projects is currently in advanced stages of development that aligns well with the research and development themes envisioned by the CRC.”
The FBICRC is an independent not-for-profit Cooperative Research Centre, which will run for 6 years to research and develop economic opportunities across all segments of the battery value chain from extraction, refining and processing of raw materials and their recycling; to the testing, manufacture and deployment of battery components and systems.
The research and development program proposed will also focus on improving sustainability, traceability and transparency across all segments of the value chain in parallel with delivering proprietary outcomes to accelerate industry expansion.
Joining founding Chairman and respected industry leader Tim Shanahan, who led the early development of the FBICRC and successful funding submission under the Commonwealth’s CRC Program, are Directors:
- Bruce Godfrey – an experienced, commercial executive with a proven ability in dealing with the issues and risks associated with commercialising new technology. Mr Godfrey currently serves as a Director for technology business advisory Wyld Group Pty Ltd. He is also Chair of the Advisory Board for the Australian National University’s Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program and a Member of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Advisory Panel
- Graeme Hunt – a respected international executive with a track record of shareholder value creation in capital intensive, globally competitive industries. Mr Hunt has 40 years of experience leading high-performance teams in delivering organic growth and successful M&A activities. He is also currently Chairman of AGL Energy and Bis Industries Ltd, while previously serving as President of the iron ore, uranium, aluminium and manganese divisions of BHP.
- Lisa Paul AO PSM – a public service leader with more than 30 years of experience, being appointed in the role of Secretary of the Federal Department of Education, Science and Training in 2004 by Prime Minister John Howard, before being subsequently reappointed in similar Secretary roles by Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. Ms Paul has transitioned into leadership positions in the industry and not-for-profit sectors, including as Chair of ‘headspace’, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and as a member of the Federal Government’s Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board.
- Mark Woffenden – a senior executive in the minerals industry, with a 40-year career focused on successfully leading research and business operations units, change management, and process and technology improvement within major Australian mining houses. Mr Woffenden served for five years as CEO of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and as a Member of the Premier’s Science and Innovation Council of Western Australia, while also having specific expertise in previously leading Cooperative Research Centres.
- Sarah Ryan – a highly regarded non-executive director of ASX20-ASX50 companies, with more than 30 years of domestic and international leadership experience across the energy, energy technology, investment management and private equity sectors. Ms Ryan also currently serves on the Boards of ASX-listed Woodside Petroleum, Aurizon Holdings and Viva Energy. She previously spent 15 years with leading oilfield technology company Schlumberger in research, engineering, manufacturing and senior management roles.
Full biographies of FBICRC’s Board members and executive team, now in place to lead the implementation of the FBICRC, can be accessed at http://www.fbicrc.com.au/, launched this week to keep participants and the general public up-to-date with developments.
In addition to the deep and varied expertise of the Board, the FBICRC has recognised the need to integrate its approach to local research and development with prevailing global market, customer and technology developments to maximise return on investment and ensure long-term relevance in the expansion of the sector.
In light of this, the FBICRC has appointed Christina Lampe-Onnerud as a special advisor to the Board. Ms Lampe-Onnerud is based in the greater New York area of the United States and is a world-leading battery expert with an extensive track record of growing and transforming businesses in the US, European and Asian markets, as well as in the commercialisation of Intellectual Property. She has worked in the fields of global energy transformation involving grids, transport, industrial and electronics markets, and has served as the founder and CEO of Cadenza Innovation (current) and Boston-Power as well as being chairwoman for the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Energy Technologies.
Mr Ellis said the commencement of work on the initial projects will represent a first practical step towards delivering the FBICRC’s mandated commercial and proprietary outcomes.
“Ultimately, the FBICRC has been established to accelerate industry expansion and grow a vibrant, emerging industry sector with an ecosystem of battery material and technology stakeholders, harnessing the interrelatedness between research, education, industry development, production efficiency and government policy to create new battery industries and new jobs for Australia,” he said.
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