University of Bath Vice-President (Implementation), Steve Egan, along with Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, Professor Gary Hawley, and Director of Research & Innovation Services, Dr Jon Hunt, met Mr Javid along with members of the Science Park’s steering committee and local MPs Ben Howlett, Chris Skidmore and Luke Hall on Thursday 3rd December 2015 to discuss emerging proposals to develop a world class automotive research centre on the site.
The project is being led by our Department of Mechanical Engineering and is supported by the steering committee under the leadership of its chairman, Professor Iain Gray.
Mr Javid heard how the proposed £50m project could put the UK in the driving seat in creating a new breed of electric and hybrid vehicles. It could also create thousands of new highly skilled advanced engineering jobs if it was to go ahead.
The University of Bath is preparing a detailed business case, which will be used to attract the investment needed to deliver the project, described as one of the top priorities for the future development of the Science Park site.
Sajid Javid said: “A successful science, technology and engineering sector will play an important part in supporting the government’s plans for economic growth.
“That’s why organisations like Bristol & Bath Science Park have such a vital role to play in meeting our ambitions.
“It was good to hear about the plans and see the level of support for them from the University of Bath, steering committee members and local MPs. I look forward to seeing future plans for the site develop.”
Steve Egan, Vice-President (Implementation) at the University of Bath, said: “We are committed to the development of a facility that would deliver research and development for tomorrow’s clean efficient vehicles.
“This facility would work with industry leaders to build on the progress being made in the UK and give us a real competitive edge. We’re encouraged by the support of partners and the opportunity to discuss this with government.”
Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood, added: “Bristol and Bath Science Park is becoming a focus for the UK’s science and technology industries. The proposed institute would create thousands of new jobs and will attract private investment to our area. It’s important that this project has the support of partners because of the huge benefits it would bring to the surrounding area.
“As the local MP I have previously fought to bring millions of pounds worth of investment into our local area, including the National Composite Centre in Emersons Green. This project has the ability to bring further investment and create thousands of new jobs, which is why it is such an exciting possibility.”
Luke Hall, MP for Thornbury and Yate, said: “These proposals could form an important part of local and national efforts to advance science and technology in the UK and mean a huge local increase in employment and opportunity. It was great to have the Secretary of State in South Gloucestershire today to discuss how this could benefit our local area.”
Ben Howlett, MP for Bath added: “The West of England is leading the way in advanced engineering and research and the University of Bath plays a significant part in supporting our continued success. The university’s emerging proposals discussed today would greatly benefit the area and attract investment and jobs. We welcome the opportunity to discuss this with the Business Secretary today.”
Iain Gray, steering committee chairman, said: “It’s important to demonstrate to government the innovation and growth that Bristol & Bath Science Park is superbly placed to unlock.
“The Science Park can act as a vital component in developing new sectors, and this proposal vividly demonstrates the impact that could be made, on a local and national scale.”
The University of Bath has a long record in delivering world-class automotive research. Its existing facilities at the Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre has a staff of 50, including nine academic staff. It attracts an annual experimental income of over £2m, and has delivered nearly 100 business-led experimental projects worth £24m over the last 20 years.
In the recent Research Excellence Framework, a UK-wide assessment of research quality, 89 per cent of the University of Bath’s automotive research in the Department of Mechanical Engineering was rated as ‘internationally excellent’ (3) and ‘world-leading’ (4).