Moves to put the North East at the heart of the zero carbon revolution have taken a giant leap forward with up to £78m of Government backing.
Three industry leaders have spent months pulling together an ambitious plan called the Stephenson Challenge, which seeks to unlock hundreds of millions of pounds from global companies in the transport and power industries.
The trio – Matt Boyle, who led Gateshead’s Sevcon until it was bought out last year by American company BorgWarner, James Widmer, chief executive of Advanced Electric Machines, and power electronics specialist Professor Bill Drury – have now learned that the Government has pledged up to £78m for the Stephenson Challenge, to support innovation in electric motor technology.
The money was announced in the Chancellor’s Budget, forming part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which the Government has increased by £1.1bn to support technologies of the future.
The trio of industry leaders hope to headquarter the Stephenson Challenge in the North East, and set up centres of excellence in the region to exploit the region’s existing world leading position in Power Electronics, Motors and Drives (PEMD).
The plan will also see companies given help to build supply chains and scale up, to ensure that the region’s expertise is translated into job creation.
Matt Boyle said: “£78m of funding for Stephenson Challenge – a great start.
“This funding to research and develop the supply chain will drive our electrification future.
“Stephenson’s name is synonymous with a second revolution, this one for zero emission technology.
“We will now be working on where its centres are placed.”
Mr Boyle has previously told how this project could see the North East working with companies around the world in sectors including rail, wind, aerospace, maritime and automotive in a market which will be worth £1trn by 2025.
“The transition from internal combustion engines is accelerating rapidly,” he said, “meaning 2.5m engines will need replacing and more than 30,000 engine engineers will be out a job when they are phased out – and all of them will need retraining.
“This is an industry that underpins the future – the future cannot happen unless we do this properly because so many decisions that have been cast in stone, such as replacement of all internal combustion engines, won’t happen unless this technology happens.
“Here in the North East we’re very good but we need to scale up and create a supply chain, teach people, upskill and reskill. The opportunities are huge.”
Source : Chroniclelive