Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems

Delivering future generations of clean and efficient vehicles

Posts By: Jon Hunt

How a Triple Helix Model will generate a West of England success story

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📥  Industry, labour market, skills

Since the creation of the UK’s network of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) back under the coalition government in 2011, a renewed onus on partnership working between local authorities, industry and academia has been at the forefront of plans to stimulate economic development and jobs recovery. Five years on, the 39 LEPs spanning the country have evolved as champions of research infrastructures to drive innovation.

Here in the West of England our LEP has been proactive in recognising the opportunity to respond to the needs of several automotive businesses. Ford and JLR, alongside their supply chain companies, want to continue to access the unique ‘systems integration’ expertise at the University of Bath, to develop the future generations of low carbon vehicles: vehicles that could be autonomous, contain multiple propulsion technologies, and are affordable.

Our LEP, like industry, want the synergy between our academic expertise, large scale state of the art facilities, and the economic benefits in jobs and gross value added. They recognise the unique opportunity to reap the rewards of such collaborative working through our proposal for the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS). IAAPS shows how and why this nexus between research excellence, business innovation and economic development, the so-called ‘Triple Helix Model’, helps generate powerful results for all partners involved.

Our vision for IAAPS has been developed in partnership with industry and with our Local Enterprise Partnership.

Our vision for IAAPS has been developed in partnership with industry and with our Local Enterprise Partnership.

Alongside the West of England LEP

This is because, by working on our proposals in partnership, IAAPS aligns with the West of England LEP’s priorities, as outlined by its latest Strategic Economic Plan. IAAPS will provide resilience to the Advanced Engineering expertise in the Aerospace and other sectors, where high value design and integration (technology and talent) will become increasingly interrelated.

In no area is this truer than in developing the West of England’s advanced engineering industries where with the appropriate skills provisions, our region has distinct competitive advantage which brings the enormous potential for sustainable future jobs growth too. The Bristol & Bath Science Park is an obvious location for several facilities, developing an Advanced Engineering Campus.

Through a £50 million capital investment, IAAPS can support 1,900 new jobs and safeguard thousands more. These are high value jobs, each providing significant productivity gains worth around £50,000 per employee: higher wages means a more prosperous regional economy. And through IAAPS we’ll be creating unrivaled training opportunities, including through new PhDs and apprenticeships, helping us now and in the future.

This sustained economic growth will rely on the success of our small businesses and support for our SMEs remains another key priority area for the LEP. With Brexit, IAAPS will reassure both large foreign-owned manufacturers to continue to invest in the design and integration of future powertrain developments, which will grow the indigenous SME supply chain. Providing a collaborative and open platform for SMEs and start-ups, IAAPS will help build and expand their business.

From our work we know IAAPS has the potential to attract millions of pounds of private sector investment from this country and from abroad. This will be a success story for the University but also for our local partners and industry collaborators. It’s an example of the level of engagement required to unlock new funding and one that we should follow as we explore future priority areas for partnership working.

Watch our new IAAPS video


Dr Jon Hunt is Director, Research & Innovation Services (RIS) at the University and part of the IAAPS project team.


Calculating the economic benefits of investment


📥  Industry, R&D

You’d be forgiven for having missed it in recent weeks, but there’s a rare bit of political consensus brewing around the term “shovel-ready” projects and their renewed importance in stimulating the economy in these choppy, uncharted political waters.

Our proposal for the new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) presents one such project that can support new jobs and investment. With industry front and centre of plans and our vision backed-up by a long-established track record for research and delivery in this area, IAAPS presents a compelling offer for a powerful boost both to the regional and national economy.

Our proposed IAAPS facility, to be built at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.

Our proposed IAAPS facility, to be built at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.

And although my role is to help grow research income and power, we’re all coming to terms with the what can be achieved based on the Triple Helix concept, where government will invest large amounts of funding in research infrastructures to deliver economic development. The Triple Helix is where such infrastructures are underpinned by world-leading research excellence and industry partnerships.

IAAPS is a new research infrastructure, which could have 80 staff, conducting research developed by our world-leading Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC), with partners such as Ford, to deliver economic benefits.

To help us calculate its potential economic benefits we enlisted Warwick Economics to look at the impacts on the sector as well as locally, regionally and nationally. Their findings really couldn’t be clearer.

Nationally, as a headline, IAAPS will stimulate £67 million in research and development between 2020 and 2025. This in turn would drive an additional turnover of £800 million for the automotive sector and £221 million in additional GVA for the national accounts. This means added value to the economy as a result of the goods and services produced at IAAPS.

Directly, they estimate IAAPS will support nearly 1,900 new jobs and safeguard thousands more that may otherwise be lost or go overseas. Through IAAPS we’ll see big productivity boosts for the economy too; something worth in the region of £50,000 per employee.

But perhaps most importantly, Warwick Economics suggest, by developing IAAPS as a centre for world-class training and skills development and by supporting new PhDs, Masters and Apprenticeship courses through it, IAAPS will be a catalyst for sustainable, future economic growth too.

Based at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, it will address the high tech skills shortages currently faced by our Local Enterprise Partnership region and it will increase the economic resilience of Bristol, Bath, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire by developing our automotive capabilities and strengthening our existing aerospace ones.

All combined, IAAPS is exactly the sort of project that can provide a boost to the regional and national economy which our politicians are looking for: internationally leading research, in a state-of-the-art facility, which brings inward investment and supports new high value jobs and growth in the area.

Dr Jon Hunt is Director, Research & Innovation Services (RIS) at the University and part of the IAAPS project team.