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Lord Mandelson visits WMG to announce £19million for Midlands low carbon area

Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift, Lord Mandelson and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya The Midlands has been designated a new Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) and is to receive £19 million of government funding for research into and development of low carbon vehicles. The news was announced today, Thursday 11th February 2010,  by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, in a special visit to the University of Warwick’s Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG).

Following a tour of low carbon automotive research projects in WMG’s International Manufacturing Centre and the International Digital Laboratory, Lord Mandelson gave a short speech in which he said:

“I want to see the Midlands help the UK to lead the global automotive industry in the transition from conventional to low carbon vehicle technologies. The LCEA will send a clear signal to the global market about the Midlands’ strengths in advanced automotive engineering.

“The move towards a low carbon economy presents huge opportunities. This new funding will help secure the Midlands’ 10,000 existing car industry jobs, by helping transform them into the green car jobs of the future.”   

Lord Mandelson also used the opportunity of his speech to congratulate WMG and the University of Warwick on their recent award of a Queens Anniversary Prize for education. He then further praised the University for winning 60 graduate internships in a joint Federation of Small Businesses/HEFCE initiative also just announced today.

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya KB CBE, Director and Founder of the University of Warwick’s Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), said:

“The car industry is facing huge challenges over the next decade. From emissions, the environment to safety engineering, a new generation of hi-tech but low carbon cars will be required. Today’s announcement is a crucial and most welcome government investment in low carbon automotive engineering which will help companies meet these global needs and provide them with new opportunities to grow as the world emerges from recession.”

 “The Midlands has a substantial, highly sophisticated, and advanced automotive industry and supply chain. This investment will bring researchers and manufacturers together to ensure that that industry and supply chain not only prospers but plays a leading role in building our low carbon future.”

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands, said:

 “This is great news and reflects the real strengths of the West and East Midlands regions in automotive manufacturing. Becoming a Low Carbon Economic Area will reinforce our growing reputation as globally competitive regions, which continue to develop cutting-edge green technologies and high technology industries upon which the future prosperity of all UK regions will depend.”

 “This latest announcement follows Advantage West Midlands’s central role in coordinating a successful bid to the new European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which will see a unique consortium of six European regions, including the West Midlands, five of Europe’s top universities and ten major companies deliver Europe’s trail-blazer on climate change – the €750million Knowledge and Innovation Community, known as ‘Climate KIC’. 

 “That success is further testament to our growing reputation for promoting innovation and excellence in the emerging low-carbon and green technologies and helping the region to become a centre of excellence.

“It is now more important than ever that we continue to make every pound count and achieve maximum impact through our strategic interventions.”

Ian Austin, Regional Minister for the West Midlands said:

“Advanced automotive engineering and low carbon technologies are extremely important to the future prosperity of the Midlands’ and UK economy.

“Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the two Midlands regions and will provide a huge boost to the competitiveness and innovation of our companies, large and small.”

Phil Hope, Regional Minister for the East Midlands, said:

“Establishing the region as a Low Carbon Economic Area will further strengthen the Midlands’ role at the heart of the UK’s automotive engineering sector.

“By providing the environment for businesses in this sector to develop and implement new, low-carbon ideas, we will ensure that Midlands-based companies remain at the cutting edge of new technologies, creating skilled, green jobs and bringing additional wealth to the region.”

Bryan Jackson, Chairman of East Midlands Development Agency (emda), which takes the lead role for manufacturing on behalf of England's Regional Development Agencies, said:

“Automotive manufacturing is vitally important to the Midlands’ economy and this announcement is fantastic news. The East and West Midlands share a rich industrial heritage and through the Low Carbon Economic Area, we will continue to nurture the innovation of our companies to ensure that we prosper in a new global low carbon economy.

“It means that our automotive businesses will be able to access world class facilities and the expertise of our excellent universities leading to the development of new low carbon transport technologies. In the East Midlands, the Low Carbon Economic Area will link with the work that we are already doing through our unique transport innovation network (iNet) which is driving forward innovations in the transport equipment market.”

Notes to editors:

1. Key stakeholders in the Midlands LCEA include Advantage West Midlands (AWM), East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA) centre of excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies (CENEX), Technology Strategy Board (TSB), Jaguar Land Rover (JLS), Toyota, Tata Motors, Mitsubishi SAIC, and WMG , the University of Warwick , and the universities of Birmingham, Coventry, Warwick and Loughborough.

2. Partners in the Low Carbon Vehicles Technology (LCVTP) programme include Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Zytek, Ricardo, MIRA, WMG at the University of Warwick, and Coventry University. The project will also involve UK suppliers.

3. Advantage West Midlands will invest £9.5 million into the LCVTP combined with £9.5 million European funds, and more than £10 million of industry funds.

4. In the East Midlands, the transport equipment sector includes a diverse range of specialist SMEs and large companies like Rolls Royce, Toyota and Bombardier, contributing £2.5 billion to the economy and employing over 38,000 people.

5. The West Midlands region alone accounts for over 60 per cent of the UK research and development in the automotive sector, with companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Shanghai Automotive, SAIC and Ricardo spending in excess of £650million.

 6. Advantage West Midlands has previously invested:

  • £6m into a £12.5m Vehicle Lightweight Technologies programme
  • £6.2m into the £10.2m innovITS ADVANCE facility. This is a bespoke intelligent transportation systems test facility with key partners MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) and TRL (Transport Research Labs)
  • £2.5m into the £4.5m Niche Vehicle Research and Development programme
  • £5m into a £10m Vehicles Customer Interface Technologies programme
  • £2.5m into the £14.5m West Midlands part of the UK Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles trial, known as CABLED in the region.

7. In addition, emda is also supporting a £9 million Transport Innovation Network (iNet) which brings together businesses, universities and the public sector with common areas of interest, innovation expertise and capability within the automotive, aerospace, marine, motorsport and rail market sectors.

8. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, has announced four Low Carbon Economic Areas (LCEA). These are:

  • South West focusing on wave and tidal energy
  • North East focusing on ultra-low carbon vehicles
  • North West and Yorkshire on civil nuclear energy
  • Greater Manchester on the Built Environment.


"I want to see the Midlands help the UK to lead the global automotive industry in the transition from conventional to low carbon vehicle technologies"

Lord Mandelson