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£2bn boost for aerospace and a technology institute

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced £1 billion of government funding for a UK Aerospace Technology Institute, along with £500 million for competitive industries in which the UK is capable of becoming world-leading, such as agricultural and automotive technologies.

The announcement on 18 March coincided with the launch of the UK’s industrial strategy for aerospace. The strategy sets out plans to invest in areas “where the UK has particular strengths, rather than simply trying to match the investment of other nations”.

The institute—which will also receive £1bn from industry—is at the heart of this strategy. The government said that matched industry funding would continue for seven years, and that by 2014-15 the institute would receive £150m from the government each year.

Research will focus on four areas where the UK can “maintain a sustainable competitive advantage”: aerodynamics, propulsion, aerostructures and advanced systems. The aim of the institute is to provide better links between research-council-funded work and innovative R&D projects, such as reducing aircraft carbon emissions.

Between 30 and 50 core staff will be seconded from industry and academia, but the R&D investment is expected to secure between 45,000 and 115,000 more jobs in the field by 2030. There will also be close links with the Technology Strategy Board’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult, with much of the ATI’s research being carried out in the catapult’s participating centres.

The Aerospace Growth Partnership between government and industry produced the strategy. Other priorities identified include building R&D skills, improving the image of aerospace as a career choice and developing a “more strategic approach” with UK Trade and Investment to take advantage of overseas opportunities. The issue of heavy up-front investment costs faced by the aerospace industry should be addressed through the establishment of an Aerospace Finance Forum to help aerospace companies work with banks and finance professionals, the strategy says.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills could not confirm which specific competitive areas would share the additional £500m.