Robert Downey Jr is not a name instantly synonymous with Gateshead in North East England…!
But this may all change following his significant investments in two technology firms in the area.
Mr Downey Jr’s green business venture, with support from Bill Gates and Amazon, bought out two North East companies. This new development clearly shows that the region is growing at a critical cluster in the energy sphere, particularly in new technologies that help people and businesses reduce their energy use.
BorgWarner Gateshead and Sunderland’s Hyperdrive Innovation were purchased by Turntide Technologies as part of a £100m investment. The Californian company has launched a transport division that recently bought the two regional firms in a deal that aims to put the North East at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution.
Turntide’s investors include Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund and FootPrint Coalition Ventures, which was set up by the Iron Man actor as part of his drive to invest in businesses tackling major environmental challenges.
The deal has been strongly supported by Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. “Cutting carbon emissions in transport is key to tackling climate change and I welcome this game-changing investment by Turntide,” he said. “It will drive forward the technologies we need to clean up the cars and vans on our roads, the boats on our seas and the planes in the sky.”
BorgWarner aims to develop systems that improve the efficiency of vehicles in the freight, rail, marine and aerospace sectors so that they can reduce their CO2 emissions.
The acquisition also includes BorgWarner Gateshead Technical Centre, a power electronics company that has designed technology for a wide range of vehicles for over 50 years.
Its transport division is led by Matt Boyle, who led BorgWarner when it was then known as Sevcon until its sale in 2017. He is considered to be one of the UK’s leading experts in electric vehicles.
“The electrification of transport is inevitable, but it isn’t coming quickly enough,” said Mr Boyle. “With success in the built environment under our belt, incorporating the technology from these two companies with the Smart Motor System will allow Turntide to simplify the path to sustainable transport.
“Gateshead has become well-known worldwide as a growing centre for digital business. We are excited to make Gateshead a centre for our innovation in sustainable transport, a move that reflects our confidence in the city.”
Turntide’s acquisition of Hyperdrive Innovation, one of the UK’s leading independent battery pack manufacturers, will allow the company to include energy storage in its solutions. Hyperdrive designs, develops and manufactures battery systems for a wide range of applications.
Mr Kwarteng also sees economic and employment potential for the region following this acquisition. “This is also a huge boost for workers in the North East and further evidence of how our climate change commitments are opening opportunities for economic growth, private investment and job creation across the UK as we level up and build back greener from the pandemic,” he said.