Jaguar Land Rover is to invest £45 million in a new £100 million automotive campus that will be the closest thing to a fraunhofer outside Germany.
Up to 1,000 new jobs will be created by the new National Automotive Innovation Campus that will be built at the University of Warwick, with work scheduled to start later this year.
Fraunhofers are the names for German centres of applied research, which are the envy of the world for valuable research and development – particularly because of private sector investment levels.
Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya said the move, which is part of wider work to expand Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to employ about 2,500 people, will mean the West Midlands is home to the best automotive research centre outside Germany.
Post columnist Professor Bhattacharyya said: “We have never had anything like this before in this county, where so much private sector money is going in to develoip a critical mass.
“That is because of the work we have already done and the huge reputation we have.”
He added: “What we are building is like what they have in Germany – relationships like Aachen and BMW and Stuttgart and Mercedes.
“We are building competence with a critical mass. Up until now it has been five pence here and ten pence there but there is a critical mass financed by the private sector, with only about £15 million coming from government.
“It will be a £100 million building with about 100 people, and have revenue of about £45 million. It will be the largest building of its kind anywhere in Europe, outside Germany.”
While it is majority-funded by the private sector, including JLR’s owner Tata Motors, the centre has also received investment from the Government’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, which supports university capital research projects.
The new centre will work on the latest advances in automotive technology and create and develop novel technologies to reduce the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and to reduce CO2 emissions.
It will also develop a stronger supplier base in the UK and address a shortage of skilled R&D staff in the automotive supply chain. The move comes while work on the WMG Academy which will be providing vocationally focused education for 14 to 19 year olds seeking a career in engineering and technology sectors – continues to take place.
Lord Bhattacharyya said JLR owner Tata was taking it upon itself to deal with a skills shortage to the benefit of the region.
He said: “They are very keen on recruiting graduates, and need a lot of skills in R&D.
“They are not saying ‘what is in this for us?’, they are doing it for themselves as well as the nation because it will maintain the supply business in this country.
“For so long the car industry has been in decline and JLR has shown what is possible – to become a world-class company.”
He added: “Tata’s success comes from the fact that every year they spend more than £1 billion on R&D, and they have to continue to do that.
“This is very similar to what BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi does.”
Tony Harper, head of research and 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”
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