Currently reading: 'Bright future for UK R&D'
The UK's Automotive Council believes R&D in the UK can grow under the new government

A recent key two-hour meeting, between an engineer and a politician who had never previously met, could have enormous implications for the health of the UK’s part-thriving, part-struggling automotive manufacturing and supply industry.

The protagonists — newly appointed business secretary Vince Cable and former Ford worldwide product chief Richard Parry-Jones — are co-chairmen of the Automotive Council, an advisory body of two dozen top industry leaders set up two years ago to clear the lines of communication between government and the motor industry.

Official details and pics on the Murray T25

Its job is to attract foreign investment, advise on legislation, help target government funding and work to improve the fortunes of an industry that employs well over a million people, pumps £10 billion annually into the UK economy, invests more in R&D than any other and represents a huge part of what is still the world’s sixth largest manufacturing economy.

After a promising start under the leadership of Parry-Jones and Lord Mandelson, the Automotive Council has faced months of election uncertainty. But things took an abrupt upturn several weeks ago when Cable signalled his willingness to succeed Mandelson as council co-chairman. “We have another heavy hitter in the fold, says Parry-Jones. “We want to hear his fresh ideas.”

Parry-Jones, co-chairman of the council, believes the task for the council is huge, but the rewards are greater. “The first task is to get the industry’s fundamentals right, and we won’t win every battle on the way. Our steady aim over the next five years must be to build an industry that can grow sustainably after that. It’s a challenge, but a great goal.”

One early task will be to find a better way to direct existing government funding. “At present there are several competing bodies that do this,” says Parry-Jones, “but it needs organising. We’re not asking for more money, just a better framework.”

The council visualises one entity, tentatively called Testbed UK, responsible for identifying targets, dispensing funds and monitoring results.

Steve Cropley

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shopa 8 July 2010

Re: 'Bright future for UK R&D'

I have a USA patent for an auto safety invention.

It can save fuel and lives.

The idea is free to use outside of the USA .

I would like a non US car company to use my invention.

This would encourage US car companies to adopt my invention.

Old Toad 8 July 2010

Re: 'Bright future for UK R&D'

Something they should have a look at is promoting engineering as a worthwhile and satisfying career for youngsters . Oh and it is not bad to earn a living getting your hands dirty .

How about subsidising apprentices properly again so companys can afford to take youngsters on . I mean proper apprenticeships too none of this short term rubbish .