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Midlands Consortium delighted to be chosen to host £1 billion energy institute

Representatives from the Midlands Consortium say they are absolutely delighted by the recent announcement that the group has been chosen to host a new £1 billion national institute to develop cleaner energies.

The Midlands Consortium is comprised of the universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham – three world-class partners, all with extensive and complementary energy related research activities. Generous financial support has been provided, in a unique cross-border arrangement, by both Advantage West Midlands and the East Midlands Development Agency (emda).

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) is being established to speed up the deployment of new low-carbon energy technologies, including the efficient production and use of energy, in support of the UK’s energy and climate change goals. It will also increase funding and provide a national strategic focus for research and development in this area and promote international technology collaboration.

Jointly funded by Government and industry, the ETI brings together some of the world’s biggest companies – BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Rolls-Royce and Shell. Their funding contribution, along with that of the Government, provides the Institute with a potential budget of more than £600 million over 10 years. The involvement of other private companies could boost the cash pot up to £1 billion.

Professor Michael Sterling, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Birmingham, said: ‘We are delighted that the Midlands Consortium has won the bid to host the Energy Technologies Institute. At Birmingham we have a proud heritage in science and engineering and our large scale Institute for Energy Research and Policy will make a real contribution to the work of the consortium.”

Professor Sir Colin Campbell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, added: “British higher education and research is one of the UK economy’s greatest success stories. Today’s news offers an outstanding opportunity for three distinguished universities to demonstrate the extent to which the United Kingdom is a significant force in the international market for knowledge and research excellence.

“The choice of the Midlands Consortium is a measure of the quality and attractiveness of our intellectual capital at The University of Nottingham, and at Birmingham and Loughborough. It also recognises our many successful collaborations, and our close and hugely-valued partnerships with those leading regional economic development. Most importantly, it will allow us to make the most of our shared determination to help secure the well-being of future generations through our science and innovation.”

The hub of the ETI will be based at Loughborough University, on the Holywell Park area of the campus, at the heart of the University’s Science and Enterprise Park, and brings with it up to 50 new jobs in the region.

Professor Shirley Pearce, Loughborough University’s Vice Chancellor, said the hub will be ideally situated at Holywell Park. “We already have a concentration of low-carbon and energy research and development activities based at the University’s Science and Enterprise Park. Locating the hub on this site will allow the Consortium to maximise the effective working of the ETI.”

Advantage West Midlands’ Director of Innovation, Dr Philip Extance, added: “Advantage West Midlands is delighted to support this strong collaboration of the three universities across the East and West Midlands. The location of the ETI hub in the Midlands pays testament not only to their research strength but also to the potential strength of firms in the regions to exploit the technology that is developed.”

Dr Bryan Jackson OBE, Chairman of emda, commented: “emda is delighted that ETI has recognised the industrial strengths in this region with companies such as E.ON UK, Caterpillar, Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Alstom, Siemens and EDF who all have a significant presence here. This strong proposition of global business at the forefront of the global energy sector combined with the international success of our universities is a winning combination.”

Bids to host the Institute were judged on energy research capability, reputation and culture; space, facilities and accessibility; and commitment to the ETI.

Five bids, from 28 applicants, were initially short-listed in May 2007. A reduced shortlist of three, comprising the Midlands Consortium and groups based in the North East and Scotland, was then announced in August.

The ETI is expected to be fully operational by 2008.

Hannah Baldwin | alfa
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