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Verkor to develop high-performance sustainable battery cells in France

Verkor to develop high-performance sustainable battery cells in France

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In less than a year after its launch, the French industrial company Verkor has announced that it has raised €100m in funding. Co-led by EQT Ventures and Renault Group, with participation from the French Government and Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes Region, the funding will support the company’s expansion and trigger the construction of the Verkor Innovation Centre (VIC) where the advanced battery cells and modules will be designed to support Europe’s net-zero goals. Also participating in the round were EIT InnoEnergy, Groupe IDEC, Schneider Electric, Capgemini, Arkema, Tokai COBEX and the Fund for Ecologic Modernisation of Transport (FMET) managed by Demeter.

All 10 partners are united by the same vision: to build a competitive, sustainable and local battery cell value chain in Europe. Verkor will deliver on this with a battery cell manufacturing capacity of 16 GWh in 2024, scaling to +50 GWh by 2030. The VIC, which will be located in Grenoble and operational in 2022, is a major milestone in achieving this vision. It will accommodate a pilot line for battery cell manufacturing, a R&D centre, testing facilities, module prototyping and provide training for a new generation of engineers and technicians. 

At a signing ceremony in Paris, Verkor’s CEO Benoit Lemaignan, said: “We are honoured to have shareholders of such a high quality on board with us. I want to thank our team for what we have achieved together in less than a year of existence. Our new shareholding structure totally reflects our ambition: an end-to-end approach to battery manufacturing, each of us focusing on what we do best, while cross-fertilising our expertise.”

Gregory Bernstein, Investor at EQT Ventures, said: “The world’s energy transition to net zero will require innovation excellence, execution and bold vision. This is also exactly what we look for in the teams that we want to invest in and why we at EQT Ventures are thrilled to join our other partners in backing the Verkor team on their journey to lead the way in Europe.”

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French Minister of Industry, said: “I welcome this new partnership which is another building block in the industrial and technological ecosystem for batteries in France and in Europe. With the automotive industry facing unprecedented challenges, the investments we make today will turn into tomorrow’s jobs. We are supporting Verkor’s growth through CORAM, the French orientation committee for automotive and mobility research, which is financed by the French future investment programme, the PIA. Our goal is to accelerate the development of innovative digital processes for battery cell manufacturing, which will be implemented in the future Gigafactory.”

Maroš Šefčovič, the EU Commission’s VP for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said: “This partnership is yet another proof that the European Battery Alliance is making real difference on the ground. In three years, Europe has become a global hotspot for battery investment, showing that we can achieve open strategic autonomy in this key industrial sector. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and collaboration of all actors, including our innovative industrial actors and our Member States. France, with its strong commitment to sustainable mobility, is clearly among our leading forces.”

Verkor will now benefit from the industrial expertise of new shareholders Arkema, a leader in high-performance specialty materials and Tokai COBEX, a specialty manufacturer of low- carbon, ultra-efficient battery anode materials. Demeter, a major energy transition private equity fund also steps in with its Fund for Ecological Modernisation of transport (FMET), while the French Government, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region and Bpifrance will provide financial support for the R&D programme. 

The news follows the signing of a partnership between Verkor and Renault Group under which Verkor will supply an initial capacity of at least 10 GWh per year for the C and higher segments of the Renault range, as well as for the Alpine models. 

With EIT InnoEnergy’s trusted European ecosystem, Groupe IDEC’s property development savoir-faire, Schneider Electric’s industrial manufacturing expertise and Capgemini’s applied science in intelligent industry, the foundations of the Verkor Innovation Centre and the future Gigafactory are now firmly in place. 

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