Leading experts and entrepreneurs in the low carbon vehicle sector from around the globe descended on Milbrook this month to attend CENEX LCV 2015. I was fortunate enough to count myself among them. The UK’s premier Low Carbon Vehicles (LCV) event served as an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the latest innovations in what is a burgeoning industry, not only in the UK, but also overseas. The Low Carbon Vehicle Innovation Platform is a major part of Transport, one of the core challenge areas that Innovate UK supports. To coincide with our Impact Review we naturally took a significant presence at this year’s event. Over 2,800 people attended– more than ever before – many of whom I had the pleasure of speaking to.
An industry changing gears
One thing that the event demonstrated is that the automotive industry is in a constant state of flux – I myself have witnessed huge shifts during the course of my career. Some people are averse to change – this is natural but change is necessary. Innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas and our Impact Review is showing that’s what UK plc is achieving. CENEX LCV 2015 was a great opportunity for people from all parts of the industry to address economic, environmental and engineering challenges that are being addressed in the transition to ultra low emission vehicles.
British technology on the map
Of the many seminars and conversations that took place, the most popular discussion points centred on two key themes: How is the UK Automotive industry being strengthened; and what role is played by Innovate UK in its development? I’m frequently asked for updates whenever I meet people and CENEX LCV 2015 was no exception. It’s safe to say that CENEX LCV 2015 certainly demonstrated that British technology is on the map. There was some truly impressive technology on display – a far cry from the days of the key ignition and wind up windows! If you think back just ten years, the jump in technology has been simply astounding.
Wide-ranging technology on display
From newly established startups to global industry leaders, a wide variety of technology and innovations were on display at CENEX LCV 2015. Many of those showcasing their technology weren’t even established companies back when Innovate UK began investing in this area. The growth has been staggering, and has largely been the result of British engineers with a serious passion spending long days and nights developing their ideas into commercial reality. I’m proud to be a part of the engineering community, and I love seeing new ideas that are on the road to becoming a commercial success.
In particular, lighter-weight vehicles and the latest in battery technology were just some of the technological developments that are key in the next steps of hybrid and electric vehicles, which were demonstrated over the two days.
I even had the opportunity to test drive some of the latest vehicle innovations on Milbrook’s unique track facilities – this proved a very popular feature at the event. I’d be happy to think I’ll be called up for a Formula E testing day soon!
I also spent time at the event with Dr. Ruth McKernan, Innovate UK’s Chief Executive, who was there to unveil Jaguar Land Rover’s latest Concept_e vehicle. This really exciting technology demonstrator was developed by means of our Collaborative R&D challenge, to advance new low carbon vehicle technologies – producing a platform that can deliver both off-road performance and enhanced energy efficiency. Seeing it on the stand really brought the scale of the LCV innovation platform to life.
British LCV innovation
If I had to summarise the event with one word, it would be: excitement. The sheer amount of innovation on display was genuinely amazing and filled me with great hope for the immediate future of the British car industry.
The UK has a rich history in the automotive industry, that we should be rightly proud of, but we should also be excited about using our expertise to further innovation in the LCV sector. I felt a real bow wave of UK economic growth and the cusp of further, significant foreign direct investment in the form of Tier1 and OEM on shoring R&D.
Innovate UK provides consistent support. We’re helping to drive forward economic growth in a highly productive sector, already rich in export success. This is what our work is all about. Investment is flowing into the sector from both the government and from the private sector, helping to drive commercial exploitation of great ideas.
This sector is a prime opportunity for patient investors; just take a look at our Impact Review 2015. It’s an exciting time to be involved with Transport and I can’t wait to see how far industry advances in the next twelve months.
Find out more about some of the businesses that have benefited from the LCV Innovation Platform:
- Bladon Jets: innovative mobile and low-cost generator takes off
- Oxis Energy – developers of a ground-breaking rechargeable battery cell
- Flybrid Systems, developers of kinetic energy recapture systems
- Magnomatics – developers of a friction-free gearbox
You can follow us on Twitter @innovateuk and see our YouTube channel here