The Government has announced a £45 million support package to research and develop more fuel-efficient, lower-carbon aero engines at universities including Birmingham.

The move will fund new partnerships between Rolls-Royce and universities around the UK, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said.

Projects will include developing lighter fans which reduce fuel consumption, simulation technology for virtual engineering and new high-temperature alloys to improve fuel efficiency.

Alongside Birmingham Rolls-Royce said it would work in partnership with universities in Bristol, Cambridge, Imperial College London, Loughborough, Nottingham, Oxford, Southampton, Surrey and Swansea.

Lord Mandelson also welcomed the Rolls-Royce commitment to build a new aero-engine disc facility in Washington, Sunderland.

He said: “The knowledge, skills and high-end production the UK offers give us huge opportunities to benefit as global demand for low-carbon products grows.

“These new projects will help our world-class aerospace industry to meet that growing low-carbon demand.”

Ric Parker, director of research and technology at Rolls-Royce, said: “This is a good example of government, industry and academia coming together to expand Britain’s capabilities in high-value-added manufacturing.”

The disc facility is one of four new facilities Rolls-Royce is to build in the UK which will secure or create 800 jobs.