Warwick to build £92m National Automotive Innovation Campus

9 October 2012
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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Laser scanning at University of Warwick's National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC)

Laser scanning at University of Warwick's National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC)

A £92m National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC) is to be established at the University of Warwick.

NAIC will be part-funded through the government's UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), which is administered by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and which supports university capital research projects.

Earlier this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced a further £200m of public investment in the fund. "Today we deliver with some of our leading businesses and universities £1bn of new science investment in the areas where we lead the world," he said.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "The UK has world-class companies and great universities. This new investment will get them working together to deliver innovation and growth."

The government, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) will invest £92m in the creation and operation of NAIC at the University of Warwick.

JLR and TMETC, working closely with WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick, envisage a 10 times return on investment through increased value added from exploitation of research outputs in new and improved products, processes and services.

The university said that NAIC will create and develop novel technologies to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and to reduce CO2 emissions.

In addition to other work on the latest advances in automotive technology, it will also develop a stronger supplier base in the UK.

It will also address a shortage of skilled R&D staff in the automotive supply chain, creating a pipeline of people into companies nationwide, including the creation of many apprentices in specific areas of vehicle technology.

This new initiative aligns with the recently announced WMG Academy which will be providing vocationally focused education for 14-19 year olds seeking a career in engineering and technology sectors.

"The automotive industry in the UK has seen a recent resurgence, but for the UK to remain internationally competitive we must create urgently a critical mass in research excellence," said WMG chairman and founder Professor Lord Bhattacharyya. "Our vision is to create the National Automotive Innovation Campus where we link people, research and world-leading infrastructure to create and develop novel technologies.

"NAIC will be an ‘engine’ for economic growth, with wide economic benefit, and sustained growth from the creation of world-leading technologies. It will enable academic and industry teams to work together in state of the art buildings, with tailored equipment and digital solutions to create and integrate breakthrough technologies with a whole system approach crossing multiple disciplines."

Prof Lord Bhattacharyya and WMG have a long history of working very closely with industry in the automotive and other sectors, both nationally and internationally.

WMG is an international leader in low-carbon mobility with an extensive track record of collaborative research leading to numerous profitable innovations by manufacturers. As one of the world’s leading centres in industrially focused research and education, it works with 500 global organisations and has delivered high-impact SME programmes serving 450 companies.

In the automotive sector it has delivered 770 business interventions in five years and works closely with JLR and TMETC, both of whom have research teams based at WMG. It has delivered skills training to over 25,000 people in manufacturing for which WMG received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2009.

"The National Automotive Innovation Campus will make a significant difference not just to the automotive industry but tens of thousands of lives," said the University of Warwick’s vice-chancellor and president Professor Nigel Thrift. "It will embrace and engage 14+ year old school students, undergraduate and postgraduates students, research fellows, academics, start-up owners, apprentices, industry engineers, supply chain specialists and automotive leaders and help secure jobs both in our local region and nationally."

Tony Harper, head of Research & Advanced System Engineering at JLR said: "The automotive industry in the UK is currently enjoying a period of resurgence with Jaguar Land Rover at its heart. We need, however, to take steps now to ensure that growth is enhanced and sustained in the long-term.

The National Automotive Innovation campus is just such a step and will bring together the best of British creative talent at WMG to ensure that the UK continues to thrive through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for our industry."

Nick Fell, director and head of the Tata Motors European Technical Centre said: "The NAIC builds on TMETC’s long-standing relationship with WMG and will provide a state-of-the-art environment for collaborative automotive research and development, particularly into low carbon technologies.

"It showcases the kind of academic and industrial partnership that will help the UK to be a destination of choice for inward investment in high value-added automotive R&D."

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