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.
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.