NEWBERRY and INDIANAPOLIS –
The acting president of the Battery Innovation Center in Greene County says the operation’s presence is truly worldwide. Ben Wrightsman says only a handful of the approximately 100 firms that work with the BIC are based in Indiana and the majority are global. The center will mark its fifth anniversary in August and he says the BIC’s focus is what makes it stand out. “Rather than having technology that just kind of stays in an incubator or stays in that R&D loop,” he said in a Studio(i) interview with Gerry Dick, the center is “actually putting it out into production, getting it into products, making connections — those battery companies — with end-users: folks like Cummins and Facebook and Amazon, Rolls-Royce, among others. Being able to get that next generation of technology into their hands.”
Wrightsman added Indiana is “absolutely” poised to be a leader in battery technology. The industry’s future success in the state, he says, is built through strong connections from the past, including the design of the EV1, an early mass-produced model of electric vehicle by General Motors, as well as the aforementioned Cummins and Rolls-Royce, plus Indianapolis-based EnerDel, Allison Transmission and Delphi Automotive Systems in Kokomo, contributing to “a rich heritage.”
The BIC this week hosted Kenneth Eickmann, a retired three-star Air Force General who now serves on the military advisory board of CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization in the Washington D.C. area. Eickmann toured the center and led a roundtable discussion on energy, transportation and national security and later met with policymakers and stakeholders in Indianapolis. In an appearance in Studio(i), he said Indiana is second to only Michigan in terms of the number of workers in advanced energy automotive fields. “I think that the revolution towards advanced energy is going to take place in the world, whether the U.S. plays a major part or not — we think we should — we think we should lead that technology innovation and steer it towards our benefit. We think Indiana is well-postured to play a major role in that,” Eickmann told Gerry Dick.