Midlands Engine steps on the gas with £180M energy research fund
A ground-breaking £180 million Government-backed fund to drive forward energy research, innovation and skills across the Midlands has been officially launched.
Chancellor George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement that the Government would invest £60 million to establish a new Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) to help grow the Midland Engine’s high-tech, high-skilled economy.
Private sector investment totalling £120 million has also been earmarked to bring the fund up to an initial £180 million.
The ERA is the first project to be delivered by the Midlands Innovation initiative, a collaboration of six leading universities.
Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick universities will work alongside the British Geological Survey, local industry and others to create a global centre of excellence for energy research and innovation.
The intention is to tackle some of the biggest energy challenges facing the UK and investigate how to make the best use of the resources available by being more efficient and innovative whilst producing affordable, safe energy.
The project is seen as a particularly important boost for the region’s growing reputation as a centre for scientific research.
Speaking at the launch event for Midlands Innovation alongside the Chair of Midlands Innovation, Professor Sir David Greenaway and Dr Tony Harper, Head of Research for Jaguar Land Rover, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord O’Neill said:
Backing innovation and skills is key to helping make the Midlands an Engine for Growth for Britain and this funding will help to drive forward the combined expertise for the leading universities in the region.
The Chancellor used the Spending Review last year to set out how the government is making significant investments in the Midlands, across transport, energy and culture and this funding is another example of our work to back the region’s strengths.
The following companies will provide £100 million to co-finance the ERA: Arcola, Blueprint, CPL, GE Aviation, Hydrexia, Intelligent Energy, ITM Power, Johnson Matthey, Lafarge, Royal Engineers, Schlumberger, Siemens, Torftech, TWI, JLR, Cofely, Dearman Engine Co, Highview.
Universities will provide the final £20 million and together with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), have collectively committed £2.4 million to recruit 33 doctoral students to help deliver a step change in applied innovation to work on areas including smarter energy systems, reducing the UK’s dependence on importing energy, enhancing energy security and resilience, and helping to achieve the UK’s carbon reduction targets.
Professor Stuart Croft, Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick said:
I am proud of what we at Warwick have contributed to our city and our region, but we can achieve even more by working in a range of partnerships that bring together universities, industry and policy maker in initiatives such as Midlands Innovation and the Midlands Engine.
The fact that this partnership working has led to this £180 million Energy Research Accelerator show that this is approach is already bringing new resources and opportunities to our region.
Professor Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University and chair of Midlands Innovation said:
Midlands Innovation brings together the leading research engines in the region. The partnership is built on a strong history of our universities working together and with the Energy Research Accelerator we have created a cross-disciplinary research hub which connects academia and industry to create jobs, drive growth, develop skills and produce innovative new products with sustainable, practical uses.
Through exciting applications of combined research expertise such as ERA, Midlands Innovation will help leverage the capabilities of the Midlands with national and international firms and investors and provide a platform for productivity for the region and wider UK.
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