Shining a spotlight on innovation and technology, with first ‘’At the Core’’ event
We recently hosted financial analysts and investors at a two-day event in Poland, to showcase and deep dive into our leading battery materials technology roadmap, our in-house innovation expertise and our cathode active materials (CAM) gigafactory in Nysa – which today still is Europe’s only battery materials plant.
In the fast-growing high-tech industry of battery materials for electric vehicles (EVs), the developments and technologies of cathode active materials, the most crucial and valuable component of a battery, play a decisive role in society’s net-zero ambitions.
As a leader in battery materials and with this activity being a strong growth driver of our 2030 RISE strategy, it only made sense to share how our current and future technologies are leading the way in making electric driving go mainstream. So we welcomed investors and financial analysts online and live to our first-ever ‘At the Core of Umicore’s Battery Materials’ event in Poland, which started with a technology immersion in Wroclaw and was followed by a visit, for those who joined us in Poland, to our cathode-active materials (CAM) gigafactory in Nysa. As the first operational CAM gigafactory in Europe, it was the perfect place to go behind the scenes and discover the innovations and technology pushing the boundaries of electromobility.
Going beyond the numbers
Caroline Kerremans, Head of Investor Relations, was part of the team who put the event together and explains how it came about: ‘’Analysts and investors said they were hungry for more in-depth insight into our battery materials technology roadmap and to learn more about Umicore’s position in the market. We decided to meet this need with a different approach to our regular investor presentations. We went beyond the numbers, immersing participants in a learning experience about our battery materials innovations and R&D, the solutions we are developing to serve different EV segments, and the future of electromobility. We also showed our future-proof modular operations set-up, which combines flexibility and efficiency to support our growth.’’
Inviting guests to Nysa was key to bringing these insights to life. As Caroline adds: ‘’This is the first time we’ve invited our investor community to go behind the scenes of the Nysa gigafactory, so there was a lot of curiosity and excitement. The event also demonstrated the expertise we have in-house, allowing our experts to talk about the leading-edge innovations and showing the teams working on them.’’
A journey into high-energy cathode power
One of these experts is Geon Seog Son, Senior Vice President R&D Battery Materials, who highlighted our short to mid-term technology roadmap and how this is aligned with short to mid-term trends for EVs.
“It was my pleasure to take the audience on a journey into the world of high-energy cathode powder and to showcase the work of our teams. To give an in-depth presentation on the achievements of our excellent R&D team, and to present what is still to come in the short to medium term, was very rewarding.”
Geon Seog Son, Senior Vice President R&D Battery Materials
As well as giving insight into our R&D, our people also immersed the audience in the trends of electromobility and our strategy. Katharina Grabrucker, Strategy Director, said the event was the perfect platform to tell our story: "We got the opportunity to tell the outside world about our exciting activities and strategy. I returned from the event with a lot of inspiration and look back positively on the rich exchanges we had in Poland."
As well as presentations, participants also had the chance to question our experts directly during a live Q&A, also featuring our CEO, Mathias Miedreich. Stéphane Levasseur, Senior Innovation Director, took the audience on a journey into our innovation roadmap for next-generation EV technologies, he says: "We had very positive and fruitful exchanges with analysts and investors. I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did. It allowed us to showcase our innovation approach to better serve the electrification of mobility over the long run."
The event was also a platform to demonstrate our local expertise in Poland. This was led by Michiel de Jonge, Chief Operations Officer Battery Materials and Dariusz Jurcjack, Managing Director Battery Materials Poland. They told the audience: ‘’We have a winning team of experts and our plant in Nysa is a blueprint for Umicore’s next CAM gigafactory, due to open in Loyalist, Canada."
One challenge for the team staging this event was inviting external guests into the sensitive environment of our CAM gigafactory. Caroline says, ‘’We wanted to show as much as we could, but we had to be very careful. There are a lot of safety and operational precautions, such as guests needing to wear protective clothing, remove jewellery, and to move carefully between closed doors to maintain a pristine dust-free environment that prevents metal contamination. Also, some areas had to be closed off, or screens covered, for reasons of commercial sensitivity. That’s to be expected with this level of cutting-edge innovation.’’
Positive feedback and reactions
Feedback on At the Core of Umicore’s Battery Materials has been very positive. With 32 live visitors and 130 more joining online, there was strong interest from analysts and investors, representing around 40% of Umicore’s share capital. What’s more, the media invited to the event reported positively on our battery materials expertise and strategy. One of Belgium’s leading business newspapers extensively covered the event, taking readers through the ABC of battery technologies and taking them along in the visit through the plant. “Umicore wants to make it clear that it is working on a sufficiently diverse portfolio to cover the three major segments of the EV market: entry-level, mass-market and premium models,’’ the paper wrote.
All of this shows how the event successfully demonstrated the full breadth of our battery material innovations. Our leadership in high lithium manganese (HLM) battery materials technology was a particular area of interest, as it is one of the promising new battery materials for the low-cost segment of the EV market, but the event also reassured the market that we have other solutions for various EV segments, with a broad and future next-generation technology portfolio, including solid-state batteries.
Looking back, Caroline is delighted with the result, which she says was a true team effort: “Guests were impressed with the dedication of our experts, saying it showcased Umicore’s technology and gave them confidence in our competitive advantage. That was what we set out to achieve – to show we’re winners in this space and we have the technology and expertise to prove it. This ambitious event wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of so many colleagues. I want to thank all of them for their commitment and energy. Together, we truly showed the heart of our business and our vision for the future.’’