A £26 million scheme to boost the country's multi-billion pound motorsport industry has won backing from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.
The agency has joined forces with three counterparts to help fund the Motorsport Development UK (MDUK) programme, which also has the backing of the Government and private industry.
ADWM has pumped £2.3 million of its regional investment funds into the project, it was announced yesterday.
Motorsport is worth £5 million a year to the UK economy, and in the West Midlands, home to world-class companies such as Prodrive (whose boss, David Richards, headed the consortium which won the bidding battle for Aston Martin), Ricardo and Zytek, as well as the Motorsport Industry Association, it adds some £850 million a year to GDP.
The Midlands is also home to some of the world's Formula One motor racing teams who have tapped into its reservoir of engineering and research skills.
Also, the NEC stages the world's biggest motorsport show.
The five-year MDUK programme is aimed at encour-aging innovation in the industry, including the development of energy-efficient racing, and supporting businesses through a virtual "Motor-sport Academy".
MDUK also works with schools, colleges and universities to "inspire the next generation of engineers and encourage more people to get involved in the sport to harness talent, skills and entrepreneurial spirit". The organisation is based at Silverstone, Northampton-shire, and is steered by a board of which Brendan Connor of AWM is a member.
Mike Clarke, AWM motorsport cluster manager, said: "Motorsport contains a high concentration of important, higher value added engineering companies and is a sector where our region's competitive advantage can be sustained globally.
"Innovation, rapid product development, entrepreneur-ship and collaboration are all hallmarks of the motorsport industry so clearly it is an industry we need to encourage.
"Motorsport Development UK will help us to work with other regional development agencies to use the sport to help protect this sector which is under threat from emerging economies and also as a way to capture imagination and encourage more youngsters to get involved."
MDUK chairman Bob Gilbert, said: "The UK's motorsport industry is a world leader in high performance engineering.
"The materials and technologies developed in motorsport offer benefits in many other areas and one of our objectives is to facilitate this transfer of technology.
"Our partnership between government, the sport and industry builds on success and Advantage West Midlands' support makes the partnership stronger."
As well as AWM, the project's backers include other regional agencies in what is called "Motorsport Valley".
These include the East of England Development Agency, East Midlands Development Agency and the South East England Development Agency, together with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Culture Media and Sport.