A new manufacturing institute to be created by Coventry University in partnership with Unipart Group will receive part of a £50m fund from the government to help drive growth and to cement the West Midlands’ image as a world-leading area for engineering.
The initiative, which is being awarded the money from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Catalyst Fund, is part of a multimillion pound investment from the government in innovation projects designed to boost the economy.
The ‘Manufacturing Institute’ aims to create over 600 jobs in the region’s high value, low carbon manufacturing sector by developing a unique engineering education and research environment which will stimulate Unipart’s supply chain and train a skilled new manufacturing workforce.
Unipart’s manufacturing site in Coventry will form the base for the institute, where new undergraduate, postgraduate and low carbon R&D programmes will create a ‘faculty on the factory floor’, and where students will be connected directly to the latest technology on the manufacturing front line.
Coventry University’s recently-opened Engineering and Computing Building is also set to provide a home to many of the teaching and research activities of the new institute.
The project will support the ambition of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for 5,000 new or upskilled engineers by 2015, as well as increases in the numbers of SMEs active in research and development in the area.
Vice-chancellor Professor Madeleine Atkins of Coventry University said: “Close-knit collaboration between universities and businesses is critical in promoting innovation and supporting the UK’s economic recovery, so we’re delighted to be forging this partnership with Unipart which will create an unprecedented ‘live’ industry learning environment to attract more young engineers and upskill current workforces.
“We will also be developing cutting edge research and development programmes between the University and Unipart to exploit the expertise of both partners and to roadmap future technologies. Our aim is to make the new Institute a paradigm for how the higher education sector can work successfully with business in the UK.”
Managing director of Unipart Eberspächer, Andy Davis, said: “Unipart Manufacturing enjoys a close working relationship with Coventry University as we share many of the same passions, including increasing the number and calibre of engineers and associated skills in the Coventry and Warwickshire area, as well as researching and developing low carbon products and processes. This partnership is therefore a key element of our own growth profile in high value manufacturing.
“This exciting project gives us the opportunity to support Coventry University in the development of new and innovative ways to train the engineers of the future, giving them real, industry-relevant projects and experience in a live manufacturing environment.”
Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “Universities and colleges are vital to the UK’s economy. This extra £50 million will harness the potential for growth across the regions, focus on our world-class industrial sectors, and create a skilled workforce for the future. It will support cutting-edge innovation and research projects and keep us ahead in the global race.”