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CASE Invests 2.6 million In AEAT Battery Systems

14th March 2005

AEAT Battery Systems Limited (ABSL) in Thurso has embarked on an ambitious development project, with help from Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) and supported by the Scottish Executive - which could ultimately result in additional jobs at the company's Thurso plant, Denchi House.

The new development will safeguard ABSL's existing 150 employees in Thurso and once technology from the latest research and development projects is proven and commercialised, the company expect the workforce to increase significantly.

CASE is investing 2.6 million towards total project costs of 10.742 million over three years. This level of investment has been made possible through additional support to Highlands and Islands Enterprise from the Scottish Executive.

Welcoming CASE's investment Deputy First Minster Jim Wallace MSP said:"The Executive provided an additional 8 million in 2004/05 to Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in recognition of the increasing demands for assistance to support growing businesses in the Highlands and Islands.

"CASE's investment in ABSL is an excellent example of how HIE and its local enterprise companies are implementing our Smart, Successful Scotland strategy. Supporting growing businesses and focusing that support where it
can offer the greatest potential contribution to the local and national economy.

"ABSL is at the leading edge in its field and I am delighted that the company are continuing to develop their product here in Scotland, bringing the potential for further high quality jobs to the Caithness area."

ABSL - a wholly owned subsidiary of AEA Technology Plc - is considered to be a market leader in cell chemistry and Li-ion battery development with major contracts for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and medical and aerospace markets.

The company designs, manufactures and delivers advanced high performance portable power systems that communicate intelligently between battery, charger and host equipment in military and other extreme environments.

ABSL is the sole supplier of batteries and chargers for a new communications platform designed for the UK Armed Forces - the 'BOWMAN' system. The new research and development projects will build on the success of BOWMAN and will assist ABSL in securing other key contracts such as the power systems supplier contract for the UK MoD's Future Integrated Soldier Technology (FIST) programme.

This will enable ABSL to accelerate the commercialisation of battery technology, placing the company at the forefront of innovation in a highly specialist and very fast moving industry.

The challenge for ABSL is to supply man portable equipment to the defence industry, where battery weight and operational run time are critical. They need to develop a new generation of Lithium based rechargeable batteries that can provide increased energy density, improved safety and less environmental impact than existing rechargeable batteries without sacrificing the ability to transport them easily.

Managing director at ABSL, Paul Brown explained: "AEA is committed to securing high quality, sustainable employment in the north of Scotland. Grants from CASE, with support from the Scottish Executive, enable UK companies such as AEA to achieve this and become leaders in their field. The competitive edge which ABSL will gain through the outputs of the research and development work being funded will position AEA in a prime position to win key contracts globally."

Chief executive of CASE, Carroll Buxton said: "ABSL and its parent company, AEA Technology, are significant economic drivers in the CASE area. They have created over 150 quality jobs in Thurso, and have also established a pilot recycling facility in Golspie which currently employs 5 people. This latest project should see the jobs in Thurso increasing in the future.

"We are pleased to be able to assist them with this ambitious project. The direct and indirect economic impacts associated with this development are immense and we believe it will bring further benefits to the CASE area."


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