Analysis: Regional strength - a success factor of European Battery Cell Production
Regional proximity often proves to be a success factor for economic cooperation. Using existing economic structures and networks – instead of starting from scratch- is helpful for the sustainable development of a new industry and its lasting incorporation in the innovation landscape. High synergy potentials can be achieved if the economic structures and networks are carefully selected. Our recently published analysis examines how a successful and sustainable development of a battery industry in Europe can succeed. Opportunities for tying in battery ecosystem stakeholders with existing regional economic structures and stakeholder networks are identified. Focus is particularly on cluster initiatives due to their status as key innovation stakeholders in the innovation system, making a decisive contribution to the intra-regional and inter-regional transfer of knowledge and technology.
The analysis provides an overview of the actual state of the new battery ecosystem in Europe. Current and future hotspots for the battery industry in Europe are identified, based on their concentration of relevant, especially well networked stakeholders, or based on nominating the battery industry as a strategic development goal for a region.
Key findings of the analysis are shortly highlighted below.
#1: Battery hot spots in Europe
Clearly defined focal regions with a high concentration of companies in the battery ecosystem are forming in Europe. A particularly dense concentration is forming in the “Blue Banana” region in Germany and Europe. A second strong concentration is forming from Brandenburg and Saxony via southern Poland to Hungary. These hot spots regions improve the chances of the lasting incorporation of battery cell manufacturing.
#2: Partner industries
The battery ecosystem is very diverse and defined by a complex value chain with many participating industry sectors. Hence, there are also numerous established industry sectors that provide links and technology transfer potential to the battery industry and can therefore be considered as partner industries. Regarding materials and processing technologies, first sectors to mention are the chemicals industry as well as machine building and plant construction. Other important sectors with technology transfer potential for the battery industry are the packaging industry, electronics sector, software development, the plastics industry and the energy sector.
For the new, developing battery ecosystem, it turns out that the automotive sector, on its way to transforming in the direction of electromobility, constitutes the leading driving force at this time. Apart from that, an important relationship with the energy sector is ongoing, where the battery plays a growing role for energy storage.
#3: Cluster initiatives support networking and transformation processes
Cluster organisations constitute an important link for the networking of the battery ecosystem. Due to their thematic focus, they offer good opportunities for tying in with a region’s stakeholders and in particular, with potential relevant cooperation partners.
Based on the data examined in this study, memberships in cluster organisations account for more than 70% of the connections between all stakeholders in the battery ecosystem. Cross-cluster cooperation can facilitate technology transfer from other industry sectors.
#4: Linking cluster and industrial policy
Regions that are committed to strategically and financially promote the development of the battery industry and have relevant cluster initiatives on site offer good opportunities for the settlement of battery ecosystem actors. Helpful for the identification of existing regional value creation structures and cluster initiatives in the field of battery cell manufacturing are the regional research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) of the respective regions. Successful establishment of the battery ecosystem can therefore succeed well if synergies are created between cluster initiatives in regions where the battery has been established as a strategic development target. Cluster initiatives also constitute drivers for transformation processes. In order to support the transformation processes of the energy system and industry in the best possible way, cluster and industrial policy should be more closely entangled. In this way, the growing importance of regions as hotspots for innovation processes and value creation can be addressed.