Collaboration is key to low carbon innovation

12 June 2012 #SMMT News

Tony Harper, Head of Research Advanced System Engineering, JLR, and the Automotive Council Technology Group, outlined how the technology consensus roadmap had become an icon in itself and stressed that the Technology Group’s output in the areas of the five sticky technologies was set to increase significantly in the second half of 2012.

Andrew Everett, Head of Transport, Technology Strategy Board, reiterated the role of strong collaboration in R&D and the opportunities in the supply chain, pointing to the fact that it was involved in more than 400 collaborative partnerships in the UK. TSB funding has so far totalled more than £60m with combined public sector investment valued at more than £150m. Chairing the session, Tony Harper said that a relatively low level of funding in the key technology areas could deliver exponential growth for UK companies.

Catherine Coates, Director Business Innovation, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, outlined how its research portfolio in the universities sector is currently running at more than £4bn and reminded UK automotive that of its collaborative work with 2,300 businesses in the UK, around 1,000 were SMEs. She emphasised the importance of EPSRC to industry, being able to give a national picture of the big R&D investment priorities and where all the centres of excellence are based. Catherine also concluded that its investments were aligned to the Automotive Council’s five sticky technologies.

John Leech, Head of Automotive, KPMG, said there were many reasons to be optimistic, with R&D employment rising in the UK. Outlining the attractiveness of the automotive industry to global investors, he explained the new Patent Box tax regime, which would see tax rates for profits driven by patents cut to 10% rather than against the mainstream corporation tax rate of 24%. He also underlined the key benefits for those working in R&D of the Above the Line R&D tax credits (ATL), which enabled R&D teams to see cash incentives for investment for the very first time.

Toby Peters, CEO, Dearman Engine Company, delivered his experience of successfully securing funding for a relatively ‘left-field’ powertrain technology – developing an engine that runs on liquid air, and continued that the benefit of that funding would now see Ricardo manufacture a full demonstration model in 2013.

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