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WMG reviews a busy year

2007 has been a very busy year for WMG: here we look back over some of the highlights.

In January discussions commenced on a major new partnership with RBS Group which is now fully underway. In February ground was broken on what will be WMG’s fourth building – the Digital Laboratory. The 5000 m2 structure, built with the support of Advantage West Midlands and HEFCE, scheduled for completion in summer 2008 has super-green credentials and will provide a state-of-the-art home for multi-disciplinary research, education and knowledge transfer in all aspects of digital technology. Throughout the year we have welcomed new professors and researchers in areas including visualisation, e-security and applied neuro-imaging as part of the initiative.

Our first VIP guest of the year was John Redwood MP, Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Group, who visited in March.

Then, on 30 March, WMG’s Eco One – the greenest race car in the world – was officially launched at the Sexy Green Car Show at the Eden Project in Cornwall. Endorsed by well-known eco-champion and TV presenter Dick Strawbridge, the car, made of hemp, potato starch and cashew nuts, went on to world stardom. Not only did it get media coverage in all the UK national newspapers, local and national television – including a guest appearance on Channel 4’s Richard & Judy Show – it received widespread coverage on mainstream internet channels and major international press, radio and television. The brainchild of WMG researchers Dr Kerry Kirwan and Dr Steve Maggs, and built to showcase innovative research into natural origin materials sponsored by EPSRC and its Warwick IMRC, the car still attracts attention but will now be retired as the next generation is built during 2008.

In April we signed an agreement with the Exim Bank of India to further facilitate links between UK and Indian SMEs.

And then on 20 May we were extremely proud to welcome UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown who unveiled the foundation stone for WMG’s new Warwick Digital Lab. Following discussions with the Director of WMG, Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Prime Minister Brown toured our Engineering Hall and gave a rousing speech to our staff.

In June the Institution of Engineering and Technology formally endorsed all of the courses and modules we deliver to our 2,000+ post-graduate and post-experience students, shortly followed by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya’s delivery of the Institution’s Lord Austin Lecture for 2007.

Also in June, we repeated our successful Hybrid Vehicles Exhibition at the Prodrive track in Warwickshire where visitors were able to drive a wide selection of vehicles powered with hybrid and alternative fuels.

In the following month we were very pleased to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the leadership development programme we developed and run for BAE Systems, though which over 1000 individuals have passed.

At the end of the month the key results of the £62 million PARD Programme were released as the initial research and development thrust is completed.  The programme – developed to create new capability with Jaguar & Land Rover and its suppliers – has achieved headline results to date of: over 400 companies assisted; 183 new products or processes developed; over 4,000 jobs safeguarded and over 2,000 learning opportunities. Interim figures will increase dramatically through to 2010 as value add and R&D investment ramps up through new product introduction programmes.

In July we hosted senior staff from GE Healthcare in the US, as part of our exiciting new partnership in digitally enabled healthcare.

In September we signed a landmark agreement with the global design and business consulting company Arup to work together on future projects in order to enable design excellence and sustainability.

Then in October we welcomed for the second time visitors from Russia, following the visit of Minister Reiman, as the Rector of the Bonch-Bruevich Saint Petersburg State University of Telecommunications visited – this culminated in the signing in December of an MOU regarding delivery of WMG’s international programme to companies involved in a major new ICT Technopark in Saint Petersburg. And, on the very same day, we were visited by the UK’s Minister for Science and Innovation Ian Pearson MP who toured our workshop before meeting staff and students.

Later that month we made an important agreement with the Confederation of Indian Industry in order to develop further opportunities for collaborative education programmes, building on our long history of successful partnership. On 17 and 18 October WMG’s large stand at the Manufacturer Live exhibition at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, attracted lots of attention – especially from those who wanted to try out the driving seat of our Formula Student racing car!

Towards the end of the month we were honoured to receive Dr Abdul Kalam, immediate past President of India, who gave a stimulating address, received presentations on our research and was warmly received by hundreds of staff and students. During his visit he met Arvind Aradhya, the winner of NDTV’s Scholar Hunt who won a full scholarship to study Engineering at Warwick, and the President of the University Student’s Union.

In November we were privileged to have a special guest in our workshop. A priceless 1928 Lea Francis Hyper racing car was wheeled carefully in by Coventry Transport Museum to be scanned by one of our newest pieces of equipment – a whole vehicle laser scanner provided by Metris. We all look forward to an equally stimulating 2008. 

Rt Hon Gordon Brown PM with University Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya

View our year in pictures here.