The following article was published by WVNews on April 12, 2022.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WV News) — A startup company plans to open a research and development center in West Virginia, according to a press release.
SPARKZ, an energy company developing lithium-ion batteries, said it plans to partner with the United Mine Workers of America to recruit and train former coal miners for research and manufacturing positions.
The company, which said it is in the final stages of site selection for its facility and expects construction to begin later this year, plans to hire up to 350 employees.
“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 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.”
Vantage Ventures, an initiative of the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, helped SPARKZ secure financing and select a space for the research and development facility, said Executive Director Sarah Biller.
“Supporting entrepreneurs who are advancing the fields of surface transportation, sustainable energy and advanced manufacturing has been a longtime goal,” she said. “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.”
According to information on the company’s website, SPARKZ was founded in 2019 and has its headquarters in Livermoore, California.
The company announced its plans at a press conference in Charleston featuring U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., West Virginia University President Dr. E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Brad Smith, and UMWA International Secretary-Treasurer Brian Sanson.