Star Scientific, an Australia-based green hydrogen company, will build a research, development (R&D) and manufacturing centre in the US state of New Mexico.

According to a letter of intent cited by New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the company wants to acquire up to 50 acres in the Mesa del Sol district of Albuquerque, the state’s largest city. The investment will create 200 new jobs, cost $100m and involve the construction of seven to ten buildings for administration, design, testing, manufacturing, as well as laboratory research.

Andrew Horvath, Global Group Chair of Star Scientific, said: “From the earliest conversations, the officials in New Mexico outlined their long-term commitment to hydrogen and the benefits of their state for a company such as Star Scientific.

“We were impressed by their whole-of-government approach to manufacturing, logistics, higher education and research and their vision for the role that hydrogen will play in their future. We were equally impressed that they had holistically planned important human details such as housing for families that will work at our facility, education incentives for their children and lifestyle and leisure infrastructure.”

Star Scientific has offices in Australia and Switzerland. The company has developed a catalyst called HERO, which can generate industrial-scale heat by catalysing hydrogen and oxygen without burning them.

News about the investment comes a few days after US giant Microsoft announced investing AUD5bn in Australia to build the country’s artificial intelligence capacity, marking the single largest investment promised by the company in its forty-year history in the country.

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The US remains the leading FDI destination for Australian businesses looking to expand their operations abroad. In 2022 alone, Australian investments in the US totalled AUD1.07trn ($680bn), down from AUD1.1trn ($700bn) recorded in 2021 and up from AUD870bn ($551bn) in 2020, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

US-Australian relations have warmed over the past year, with US President Joe Biden and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sharing a common interest in fighting climate change.

Speaking about Star Scientific’s decision to invest in New Mexico, Grisham commented: “New Mexico is on the map for companies looking for the best place to invest in clean energy solutions that drive the global economy forward.

“Star Scientific’s arrival in New Mexico is a win for the next generation of job seekers looking to make a difference.”