Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems

Delivering future generations of clean and efficient vehicles

Topic: R&D

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. 


Don’t be left behind on automotive R&D

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📥  Industry, R&D

With a new car rolling off the production line every 20 seconds and an export market that’s worth nearly £35 billion, there can be no denying that UK automotive in 2016 is in a strong position. But that doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels when it comes to research and development (R&D) if we are to continue to capture future market share.

Our prowess in advanced automotive engineering really matters. It matters for the industry, it matters for jobs and it matters for the wider economy too. According to latest figures, provided by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, over the last year 1.5 million cars and nearly 2.5 million engines were built through UK automotive - an industry which employed 800,000 and turned over close to £70 billion.

This all puts the UK in an enviable position moving forward but it also the reason why, when it comes to future automotive R&D, we really can’t afford to be left behind. In response to stricter environmental standards coming in at home and abroad, around the world propulsion technologies are advancing apace. Ten years from now how the automotive industry looks, and who its leaders are, are likely to be very different.

Our proposal for IAAPS will help the UK deliver high value R&D in the years ahead.

Our proposal for IAAPS will help the UK deliver high value R&D in the years ahead.

Against this changing backdrop, how the UK retains its competitiveness and ensures jobs are not lost overseas comes down to whether we can be agile and adaptable in terms of delivering high-value R&D.

By simply relying on our existing facilities we won’t keep pace with the needs of industry who will, in increasing numbers, spend their R&D expenditure overseas. Our SMEs, where so many of our recent engineering advances have sprung from, will not have the space to test and progress the kind of ideas that could reshape future engineering and design.

Without investment we’ll increasingly face challenges in terms of skills shortage too. Already, the Automotive Council says that 5,000 jobs could remain unfilled due to lack of skills. Our own Local Enterprise Partnership – the West of England LEP – has highlighted similar skills shortages in high tech, low carbon and advanced engineering.

This is why we believe our proposal for a new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) is so crucial and why investment in this area can yield important future returns if the UK is to remain a leader for automotive. Through IAAPS, we can create a space where the world’s best engineers can work hand-in-hand with industry and SMEs to tackle these emerging challenges in an environment where we also can nurture the next generation of advanced automotive engineers.

Underpinned by the years of experience in automotive propulsion research here at the University of Bath, IAAPS can be a success story for the regional and national economy and can ensure the UK remains a leader in automotive in the years ahead.

Steve Egan CBE is Vice-President (Implementation) at the University of Bath and the key contact for the University’s plans to develop IAAPS at the Bristol & Bath Science Park.


In partnership with industry for a global vehicle research facility

📥  Automotive, Industry, R&D

When you align research conducted by some of the world’s best engineers with specific industrial challenges you create a truly powerful force for generating impact.

It’s the approach we’ve taken here at the University of Bath and it’s the principle reason why we’ve been so successful in advancing automotive and mechanical engineering for the past 40 years. Through our Powertrain & Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC), we’ve earnt a solid reputation for delivery and have worked with the automotive industries on nearly 100 projects. The 17 active research projects we have on the go currently are worth a total project value of more than £40m.

By aligning our work with the needs and challenges of our industrial partners - Ford, Jaguar Landrover to name just two – our researchers have delivered innovative solutions that address key challenges, like engine downsizing, improved fuel consumption and lower vehicle emissions.

Professor Hawley outlines our plans for IAAPS.

Professor Hawley outlines our plans for IAAPS.

Our work in partnership with industry, on turbocharging, delivering low-carbon systems for hybrid engines, or reducing engine CO2 emissions, have each helped us become a leader for research, innovation and delivery. Last November this position was formally recognised when we were announced as one of the UK’s leading automotive propulsion groups, selected as a Spoke of the Advanced Propulsion Centre.

Together, this is why we at the University are ideally placed to spearhead plans for a next generation of research into advanced automotive propulsion systems, and help UK PLC deliver on its vision for a ‘Propulsion Nation’ where R&D can be carried out at home, not abroad.

We are cementing plans for a new Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), to be based at the Bristol and Bath Science Park, that would truly put Bath at the centre of future advanced engineering developments and provide a cutting edge facility to benefit the UK automotive industry.

IAAPS will be a global centre of excellence delivering transformational R&D for future generations of low carbon propulsion vehicles. And not only will this deliver solutions to emerging industrial and environmental challenges, it will generate significant economic returns including thousands of jobs for the region.

As we lay out our vision over the coming weeks and months via this blog, I and the team behind IAAPS will expand on our plans and explain why these issues are so important to tackle and why Bath is best placed to deliver them.

Professor Gary Hawley is Dean and Medlock Chair of Engineering for the Faculty of Engineering & Design.