University of Warwick and the National Automotive Innovation Centre

University of Warwick and the National Automotive Innovation Centre

Warwick-SOR-IntroUnder construction at the University of Warwick is one of the UK’s largest private sector investments in any university: the National Automotive Innovation Centre (NAIC).

It is a vision of Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, the Chairman of WMG, working collaboratively with Jaguar Land Rover and Tata Motors European Technical Centre.

Catalysed through the UK Research Partnerships Investment Fund providing, through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), £30m of the total £150m investment, the 33,000m² research environment at the heart of the University campus will create facilities for 1,000 engineers, designers and academics to collaborate.

The UK automotive sector has a renaissance in sales, and particularly exports, but for Britain to remain internationally competitive it must be underpinned by a critical mass in research excellence. The NAIC will enable an urgent, integrated injection of research and research-led training to address the long-term industry-led strategy of the UK Automotive Council.

The NAIC will link people, research and world-leading infrastructure to create novel technologies, addressing the lead that other countries have stolen, where major companies have developed very close links with the HE sector to deliver innovation; creating a critical mass of research capability at Warwick, and combining this with expertise nationally and internationally from universities, supply chain companies, and innovative small enterprises. From early next year, its academic/industry teams will work in a state of the art building, with tailored equipment and digital approaches to create breakthrough technologies through a whole system approach crossing multiple disciplines.

The focus is on Low Carbon Mobility and the industry goal of the global reduction of Green House Gas emissions of 80% by 2050. This is a challenge, but it creates major opportunities for the UK in Electrification; Carbon Reduction and Smart, Autonomous and Connected Vehicles, where research can help enable international leadership. It provides an opportunity to use the automotive sector as a driver of economic growth with the integration of scientific knowledge into products - accelerating the time to market for technologies. The knowledge created can be readily transferred into sectors including rail, marine, commercial and off-road, and motorsport which face similar challenges and opportunities.

A major problem facing the UK is the lack of skills. Highly competitive sectors require the latest technologies and skilled staff grounded in innovation. The NAIC will create hands-on laboratories supporting an ‘integrated education programme’ to deliver a pipeline of highly skilled people – from students at the nearby WMG Academy (University Technical College), on the pioneering part-time Applied Engineering Programme that enables undergraduate degree study whilst in full-time employment, the Master’s level Technical Accreditation Scheme, through to the Engineering Doctorate.

Construction of the building is well advanced and it has already attracted global Tier 1 suppliers to transfer R&D to the UK, where they can engage with a world-leading centre with critical mass.

Speaking at the unveiling of the foundation stone, Dr Ralf Speth, the Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer said: “The National Automotive Innovation Centre will serve as a generator of new skills and new thinking, providing a perfect, collaborative environment in which to learn, research and develop the designs and technologies that will shape the vehicles and personal mobility solutions of the future.”

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