https://innovateuk.blog.gov.uk/2018/05/21/making-an-exceptionally-british-statement-6000-miles-away/

Making an exceptionally British statement 6000 miles away

The Global automotive race continues as countries compete for supremacy in all things electric, connected and autonomous. As a platform for showcasing your brightest and best innovative automotive technologies, they don’t come much bigger than the JSAE Annual Congress held in Yokohama, Japan.

From the 23rd – 25th May 80,000 visitors will descend on the largest pan-Asian automotive event of the year. To make sure the UK has set a clear statement of intent we (BEIS, Innovate UK and the APC) layout what has traditionally been the largest stand of the show. As Innovate UK, our statement is clear; the UK is a centre of excellence for automotive innovation and R&D support. We are building on our track record of delivering automotive impact and success.

It’s all sushi and sake – not quite

As missions go this is not for the faint-hearted - business cards at the ready! Innovate UK’s raison d'être while in-Country can be neatly positioned into two well-squared boxes.

  • Attract new and continued inward investment

The first, to attract new and continued inward investment. Demonstrating that as an ecosystem for R&D and manufacturing that the UK is geared up. Over the course of 5 days (we arrive early), the collective we will meet with Japan’s major original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Tier 1 and wider supply chain to present this message. Ultimately, we want to build a relationship and continuous dialogue to a successful UK-centric conclusion.

With Innovate UK supporting over 500 mid TRL R&D projects, to the tune of £600m (¥89,2bn) across the low emission, battery, CAV and vehicle charging thematic areas, we’re in a prominent position to deliver a convincing message. Coupled with this are strategic partnerships with our Government and industry partners (here comes the acronym download OLEV, CCAV, BEIS, APC, AIO, EPSRC, Meridian, Catapults and Automotive Council) which adds a layer of security to those considering the UK for future activity.

  • Forster interest leading to orders

The second is to foster interest in, and as an ultimate goal, orders for the 24 UK based organisations who are joining us as part of the UK’s delegation. This is seamlessly delivered through company exhibition spaces and a UK Technical Congress during the main event.

The opportunity is huge. One conversation, one well-presented slide or one meeting can deliver an impressive return on investment. This is not conjecture, far from it. Exposing an organisation’s innovations at JSAE to potential customers has been lucrative in the past… we will see it again.

Each organisation making up the UK delegation have been a recipient of Innovate UK and/or APC support. Such is the wealth of UK innovation that we have to turn down highly disruptive technologies who expressed an interest in joining us in Japan – a good problem to have.

From one island nation to another

The 3rd and 5th largest economies (IMF 2018), both island nations and both with a past in the respective countries. After all, Japanese OEM Nissan began full-scale passenger car manufacturing operations in the UK back in 1986.

The UK and Japan, although culturally different, have similar challenges. Tackling emissions and air quality, developing new technologies, competing within an ever complex and competitive market, to name a few. Progress to overcome these is, to a degree, dependent on collaboration between stakeholders from a broad spectrum that includes and extends beyond geographic and industrial borders.

JSAE is an opportunity to build collaborative opportunities with Japanese organisations, with Innovate UK and the APC then well placed to turn this interest into tangible action on the ground.

A rising sun come Saturday morning – measuring success

As the sun rises on Saturday morning and the 12hr flight back to UK begins, it offers an opportunity to reflect. Too early to tell if organisations need to book a return trip for commercial discussions but the amass of actions from the many discussions is a sign of whether our statement has delivered.

More work to be done by the UK’s automotive funding ecosystem once back (there always will be) but a welcome challenge.

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