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SPARKZ To Open R&D Center in West Virginia, Partner with United Mine Workers of America to Recruit and Train Dislocated Miners To Be Factory's First Production Workers

·4 min read

Cobalt-free battery startup to help create domestic battery supply chain

MORGANTOWN, WV / ACCESSWIRE / April 12, 2022 /SPARKZ, Inc., the battery startup commercializing a cobalt-free, American-made Lithium-ion battery, plans to open a research and development (R&D) facility in the heart of coal country in West Virginia.

SPARKZ will partner with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the factory's first production workers. SPARKZ already has hired its first West Virginia-based employee and, initially, expects to hire at least 350 Mountaineers across research and manufacturing. The company is in the final stages of site selection for the facility and construction will begin later this year.

"We are thrilled to play a role in the creation of a domestic battery supply chain. We must end our reliance on cobalt and China's dominance in the global battery supply chain," said Dr. Sanjiv Malhotra, founder and CEO of SPARKZ. "We are delighted to make West Virginia our home and aid the state's transition from its roots in coal mining to the new energy economy. We're grateful to Vantage Ventures for helping take us home to the country roads of West Virginia."

The announcement was made in Charleston, West Virginia at an event, featuring U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, West Virginia University President Dr. E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Brad Smith, and UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Brian Sanson.

Vantage Ventures, an initiative of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at WVU, played an integral role in helping SPARKZ secure equity financing and select a space for the research and development facility.

"Supporting entrepreneurs who are advancing the fields of surface transportation, sustainable energy and advanced manufacturing has been a longtime goal," said Vantage Ventures Executive Director Sarah Biller. "This remarkable announcement is further proof that our efforts to leverage West Virginia's strengths to create a sustainable startup infrastructure that benefits our state is making real progress."

Vantage Ventures is an initiative to scale innovative technology companies in West Virginia. In June, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) platform for enterprise partners DataRobot, which has a $6.3 billion valuation, announced that it was opening an office at the Vantage Ventures offices in Morgantown and hiring West Virginians.

By eliminating the need for cobalt (cathodes), SPARKZ aims to reduce the cost of clean energy production in the U.S. and remove one of the primary environmental concerns about its production. SPARKZ anticipates its initial markets will be in material-handling vehicles like forklifts, agricultural equipment and energy storage. Founded in late 2019, SPARKZ already has completed the transfer of six patents from its contributing partner, the Oak Ridge National Lab.

As the U.S. seeks to implement a domestic battery supply chain by the year 2030, companies such as SPARKZ will play a critical role in creating sustainable and flexible production models for electric batteries. As electric vehicles become a large-scale reality, producing lithium-ion batteries efficiently and at scale will become vital.

About SPARKZ, Inc.

Founded by industry veteran and former U.S. Department of Energy executive Sanjiv Malhotra, SPARKZ will begin commercialization of a high energy-density zero cobalt, American-made Lithium-ion battery, while continuing its groundbreaking research and development focused on re-engineering the rest of the battery supply chain. SPARKZ zero cobalt battery offers 2X the energy density compared to other zero cobalt batteries (LFP) being produced predominantly in China.

The company's first commercial product will eliminate cobalt, traditionally used in the cathode of a Lithium battery, with the objective of reducing the cost of lithium battery production in the U.S., while also eliminating a primary environmental concern, and reducing chokepoints created by a foreign supply-chain. SPARKZ will be announcing its customer and OEM partnerships in the near future.

SPARKZ was founded in late 2019. SPARKZ has completed the transfer of 6 patents from the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which continues to be an R&D partner.

About Vantage Ventures

Housed at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, Vantage Ventures provides a bold new generation of entrepreneurs with a systematic and repeatable process to transform their world-changing ideas into scalable businesses. Vantage Ventures leverages its network of mentors, talent, capital allocators, academics, and committed industry partners, including entrepreneurs and the innovation engines of large companies, to forge a new path of economic growth. It is backed by globally influential technology leaders, Fortune Class companies, venture investors, and an unexpectedly cool R1 Institution. For more information, visit: https://vantageventures.io or follow Vantage Ventures on Twitter: @VantageWV, Instagram: @VantageVentures, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Kyle W. Kempf
Caliber Corporate Advisers
888.550.6385 ext.19

SOURCE: Vantage Ventures

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