Benchmark Mineral Intelligence and the Faraday Institution have a shared commitment to developing talent for the UK battery sector. The PhD internship programme has been a valuable way to bring technical expertise in a variety of topic areas into the organisation. It has also provided researchers with the opportunity to gain a unique and global perspective on battery supply chains. Find out more…

Jessica Roberts, Head of Forecasting at Benchmark, comments on the value of having Faraday PhD researchers involved in their internship programme.

“Benchmark’s supply chain intelligence and analysis has hugely benefited from the technical expertise of our Faraday internship researchers. From next-generation battery technologies like solid state and sodium-ion, to sustainability and recycling, the Faraday researchers’ subject matter expertise and research skillsets have been hugely important in helping us develop detailed market analysis and models. We have had a fantastic experience with each intern, and it has been a pleasure to welcome several Faraday PhD researchers into full-time analyst roles with us.”

Kieran O’Regan

profile photo of Kieran O'ReganKieran O’Regan was the first Faraday researcher to intern in the company. The experience both benefited his PhD studies at the University of Birmingham and provided him with valuable experience during the subsequent set-up of spin-out company About:Energy, of which he is a founder. He has been strong advocate for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence internships with his peers and has introduced others to the organisation.

Kieran’s internship at Benchmark focused on next generation batteries, specifically solid-state and silicon anodes. He produced a report that communicated the chemistries of these materials to non-expert stakeholders, raising awareness of supply chain challenges with the aim of empowering Benchmark’s clients to make robust decisions on critical mineral contracts and electric vehicle battery supply chain investments.

Kieran described what he gained from his internship:

“The industry experience was very valuable. I was able to translate what I learnt (in my PhD) into a new context. I enjoyed the experience of working independently and autonomously, and even though the internship was online, I still had the chance to meet plenty of people in the industry. The internship also allowed me to see research from an economic perspective, which bridged the disconnect between academia and industry.”

Beatrice Browning

Profile photo of Beatrice BrowningBeatrice Browning is a PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham. Her PhD is part of the Faraday Institution’s ReLiB project and focuses on upcycling cathode materials for use in novel anode applications. In March 2022, Beatrice began a three-month internship at Benchmark. The internship was set up through networking in the Faraday Institution, where she met Kieran O’Regan who put her in touch with Benchmark’s leadership team.

Beatrice worked as part of the Forecasting team, contributing to the launch of its Recycling Forecast that analyses how recycling practices will vary in upcoming years by region and application, and how much lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese will be available from recycled material. This report has been sought after by clients working with Benchmark.

Beatrice Browning working Beatrice’s data analysis was based on an extensive recycling model that used data captured by Benchmark. She developed data processing and extrapolation skills to make sense of this large dataset, linking trends to geopolitical events. The technical knowledge of batteries that she brought to the team proved to be hugely valuable. She was able to provide background information on certain techniques, and in doing so she strengthened her science communications skills.

Beatrice comments: “It was exciting to be part of the first ever recycling forecast to go out, and to know that I made my mark on it and that my technical expertise was important in creating that report.”

Jessica Roberts was Beatrice’s supervisor during her internship, and she explained how beneficial it was having Beatrice involved.

“Beatrice’s technical understanding of batteries and recycling has been hugely important in shaping our market analysis and methodologies, capturing just how important the different recycling technologies available will be in closing the loop in the battery supply chain.”

Following her internship, Beatrice works for Benchmark one day a week while she completes her PhD research. In the future, she hopes to use these newly developed skills to pursue becoming a data analyst or sustainability consultant.

Rory McNulty

Rory McNulty profile photoRory McNulty is another former Faraday Institution PhD researcher to have benefitted from an internship at Benchmark, and now works there full time.

He studied for his PhD at the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Dr Lee Johnson and was part of the first cohort of Faraday Institution PhD researchers. His PhD focused on electrolyte degradation with next-generation technologies as part of the Faraday Institution’s Degradation project.

During one of the Faraday PhD training weeks, Rory attended a talk by Simon Moores, CEO of Benchmark. He was inspired by Benchmark’s work, and how it contrasted to his PhD research, by focusing on the real-world aspects of the battery industry. He was encouraged to reach out to Benchmark and secure an internship. Kieran O’Regan had just completed an 8-week internship at Benchmark when Rory started, and they worked together to develop a strong understanding of the solid-state battery industry.

Rory and Kieran working togetherUsing Kieran’s work as a template, Rory developed a solid-state battery report during his four-month internship, creating a product that Benchmark published. The report highlighted the difference between lithium-ion batteries and solid-state batteries and the processes involved in getting them commercialised. It also focused on the supply chain, including what materials are needed, where they are sourced, and the current state of the markets.

Through this internship one of the main skills that Rory was able to develop was to distil very complex topics down to provide someone who wasn’t an expert in the field with a sufficient understanding of the state of the industry. He also developed skills in written communication and data processing with large datasets.

After his internship, Rory worked for Benchmark one day per week while completing the last year of his PhD.

“Having those two streams side by side, my PhD focusing on the nuances of science, and my work on Benchmark looking at the perspective of the whole battery industry, really helped me to develop a more well-rounded outlook.”

After submitting his PhD thesis in March 2023, Rory began working for Benchmark full time as a Senior Research Analyst, aiming to build out Benchmark’s data and intelligence across next-generation battery technologies more broadly.

“CEO Simon Moores and the Benchmark Mineral Intelligence team have been longstanding supporters of the Faraday Institution talent development initiatives, and it is heartening to see the mutual benefit gained by PhD interns and the organisation alike. Growing specialised talent for the battery sector is crucial in realising the ambitions for a more sustainable and electric future and we are grateful for the strong, impactful partnership that has formed.” Fran Long, Head of Training and Talent Development, Faraday Institution.

Internship spotlight written by the Science Communications Intern, Nancy Stitt, and published November 2023.

Find out…
More about Benchmark Mineral Intelligence
About the internships on offer to UK-based PhD researchers
About how to tap into Faraday Institution networks and offer PhD researchers an internship