Green light for £1m boost to UK motorsport industry

24 June 2013 #SMMT News

A £1 million competition to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) drive motorsport technologies around the world has been put on the starting grid by Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.

The Technology Strategy Board’s latest ‘Launchpad’ competition will give UK businesses working as part of England’s Motorsport Valley, around Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties, the chance to compete for funding.

The investment will allow businesses to develop new energy and emission efficient technologies that could be transferred into the pit lanes of famous races such as the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and Le Mans 24 Hour. The technologies could also be used across the transport, aerospace and defence industries.

The ‘Launchpad’ competition is being opened ahead of this week’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

The Motorsport Valley business cluster is a hotbed for innovation and a key driver for growth in the UK. With over 3,500 business employing around 40,000 people, the area is already generating global sales in the region of £7 billion.

This new £1 million Launchpad will give some of our brightest companies the chance to strengthen the industry, bring in further investment, and keep the UK as a world leader for the motorsport industry.

Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board Iain Gray said, “Motorsports Valley is one of a whole host of Launchpads that we are running this year. We aim to draw more investment and more people into the area and to encourage networking to strengthen this cluster of motorsport companies.

“Companies in this cluster supply cutting-edge technologies and components used in the majority of world motorsport series.

“The success of this sector will be demonstrated this weekend as the majority of Formula 1 (F1) cars lining up in this weekend’s British Grand Prix will be using a gearbox system supplied by Berkshire based Xtrac. The company also supplied systems that were used by the entire grid of the 2013 Indy 500 race in the USA.”

Another business making an impact on the global scale is Williams Hybrid Power based in Oxfordshire. The company has developed an electric flywheel energy storage system for the Williams F1 team. The system was also used by Audi in the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race where it was the first ever Hybrid car to finish first. Adaptations of the system are now being developed for rail, tram and bus services.

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