CIC energiGUNE closes 2022 with more private funding, a high rate of approved projects in Europe and new acknowledgements for its team
The Basque Centre has consolidated its position as a European benchmark in battery research and development, and has strengthened its leading role in technology transfer to Basque industry in this sector.
The presentation of BASQUEVOLT, the second spin-off from CIC energiGUNE after BCARE, has been a fundamental milestone in strengthening the Basque Country’s position as a benchmark in battery technology and manufacturing.
In 2022, CIC energiGUNE achieved a 100% success rate in the promotion of European projects linked to the development of high-performance batteries, with 9 proposals -one of them led from Vitoria-Gasteiz- approved by the EU.
The staff, made up of 180 professionals, includes increasingly internationally recognised researchers, among whom Michel Armand continues to stand out.
CIC energiGUNE, a leading Basque research centre in electrochemical energy storage, thermal energy storage and conversion and hydrogen technologies, closed the 2022 financial year with an increase in participation and leadership in European projects, as well as in the generation of disruptive knowledge transferable to industry. In addition, the centre, a member of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance-BRTA, has managed to increase the international recognition of its staff, which has enabled it to consolidate its position as a European benchmark in energy storage over the past year.
“During this year we have managed to establish ourselves as one of the most important research centres not only in Europe, but in the world in the field of energy storage, and the recent recognition given to us by the European Commission itself only reaffirms this”, declared the general manager Nuria Gisbert. “Our work, perseverance, talent, professionalism, perseverance and, above all, believing in what we do and having a clear objective, is what, for yet another year, has placed us at the forefront of scientific research in the fields of electrochemistry, thermal energy and hydrogen,” she said.
One of the main milestones of the 2022 financial year for CIC energiGUNE was the signing of the partners’ agreement and the launch of BASQUEVOLT, the second spin-off to emerge from CIC energiGUNE after BCARE. The Basque initiative to develop its own pioneering technology in the field of solid-state batteries aims to start cell production in 2027, with the goal of reaching 10GWh of capacity. This is a strategic project that is set to contribute to Europe’s take-off in both the battery race and the storage industry, which is key to making progress in the energy transition.
“Through BASQUEVOLT, we seek to continue to fulfil our main objective and commitment, which is to generate scientific knowledge transferable to industry, thus promoting a valuable impact on our immediate environment and contributing to strengthening the positioning and competitiveness of the Basque industrial fabric,” said Sara Ortiz, the Centre’s Director of Strategy and a member of the BASQUEVOLT internal promotion team.
Beyond this milestone, in terms of funding, 2022 was the first year in which 30% of private turnover was reached, thanks to the development of 74 projects with companies and industrial agents. Another relevant milestone is that more than half of the projects and funding -55% in both cases- came from collaborations with Basque companies, which further reinforces CIC energiGUNE’s focus on the closest regional ecosystem.
Outstanding leader in the development of European projects
Another of CIC energiGUNE’s great achievements in 2022 has been the 100% success rate in the EC Horizon Europe funding programme in the battery call. The 9 projects in which the Basque centre participates were included in the list of approved proposals, an achievement that is within the reach of very few organisations. All the projects are linked to the development of high-performance batteries, focused both on electromobility and other applications, which reinforces the centre’s position as a European benchmark in solid-state batteries.
In this sense, CIC energiGUNE is leading one of these projects, HELENA, whose objective is to develop solid-state halide batteries for electric vehicles and, especially, for aircraft, as it is considered that electric aviation will be ready to take off in the next 5 to 10 years. In the rest, the Basque centre acts as a strategic research partner, highlighting ADVAGEN, which pursues the development of a new lithium metal battery cell technology based on a safe, reliable and high-performance hybrid solid-state electrolyte; or PULSELiON, which aims to facilitate the manufacture of “Gen 4b” solid-state batteries using a new laser deposition technique.
Also on the list are BEST, the new technical secretariat of ETIP Batteries Europe; GIGAGREEN, designed to drive the next generation of cell and electrode component processing techniques; SPINMATE, which aims to implement a scalable, sustainable, safe and cost-effective digital concept pilot line; HIGHSPIN, for the development of a high-voltage cobalt-free battery; and SEATBELT, for the development of low-cost battery cells with high energy density, increased safety and sustainable design.
Centre and team recognition
In terms of recognition, it should be noted that the Basque centre is the most important research foundation in Spain and in all Latin American countries, regardless of the scientific branch, according to the SCImago ranking, which annually establishes the classification of the world’s leading research entities. The data for 2022 show that the Basque centre is the seventh most important Foundation in the world if all branches of science are taken into account and that, moreover, in global and general terms, it is in the top 500 worldwide, the top 200 in Western Europe and the top 25 at national level.
Moreover, as Nuria Gisbert recalled, in its recent report Batteries for Energy Storage in the European Union, the European Commission places CIC energiGUNE as an “outstanding example” in the field of battery research and development.
In terms of its staff, currently made up of 180 professionals, several awards have been received by different members of its research team in 2022. These include the inclusion of six scientists in the “Ranking of the World Scientists”, produced annually by Stanford University in collaboration with the academic publisher Elsevier and considered the benchmark ranking of the world’s best researchers; the inclusion of Michel Armand in the prestigious “Highly Cited Researchers” list, compiled annually by the company Clarivate Analytics, and his recognition as a Fellow of the Electrochemical Society; the award of a Ramón y Cajal Grant to the researcher Yaroslav Grosu; the appointment of Javier Carrasco and Daniel Carriazo as new Ikerbasque Professors, joining Elena Palomo and Paramaconi Rodríguez in this category.
Research work and social commitment
Over a hundred publications were registered last year, 75% of which were published in high-impact journals. With regard to the number of patents filed, in 2022 there were a total of seven, some of them in joint ownership with both international entities and agents of the Basque Science and Technology Network. Thus, with these seven new patents, the Centre has 28 active patent families, 10 of which are licensed.
CIC energiGUNE has also acted as a driving force in the sector with outstanding actions such as the 5th “Power Our Future” Congress, held in Vitoria-Gasteiz with the presence of the main European players. The organisation particularly highlighted the level of industry capacity to start up the production of solid-state batteries, and the presentation of new advances in metal-ion technologies as alternatives to lithium, such as sodium or potassium.
CIC energiGUNE also carried out social initiatives last year in collaboration with the Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council, Innobasque, BIC Araba and the Basque Technology Parks, taking part in activities such as the anniversary of the city’s Green Capital, Ikasekiten, STEAM Sare and the Experience Forum, among others, to promote entrepreneurship and scientific-technological vocations.
In addition, within the framework of its Strategic Plan, it continued to promote the cultural transformation of the organisation through different activities aimed at reinforcing the centre’s essential values, especially scientific excellence and its impact on the business environment. These activities included coaching workshops with the centre’s teams and the Mentoring programme for doctoral students, which reached its second edition in 2022.