New centre positions North East England at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology expertise

A new centre in Sunderland that aims to position the UK a focus for the development and integration of low carbon vehicle technologies is set to open its doors on June 9th. Gateshead College announces that early uptake from prospective tenants in the Future Technology Centre has led to 80 per cent occupancy and driven the need to officially open for business ahead of schedule. The centre provides a unique combination of offices, research and development space, manufacturing facilities, training and classroom space as well as proximity to a dedicated LCV performance test track supported by a complete range of charging infrastructure.

The region’s first purpose built centre for automotive development is located in the heart of the automotive industry in Washington, Sunderland and is part of the A19 Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Corridor Enterprise Zone. Owned and managed by Gateshead College, the £4.48m Future Technology Centre is the first of its kind in Europe and provides companies working in the automotive and low carbon vehicle sector with the opportunity to develop and commercialise innovative technologies. The facility has received £2.36m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, with £2.12m investment from the College.  

“The Future Technology Centre is crucial to the successful development and implementation of low carbon vehicle technologies, and is central to the North East becoming the UK’s technology hub in this emerging sector,” says Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive of Gateshead College. “This financial commitment is indicative of the College’s investment in the future of its students, working to secure sustainable employment for people in the region while also attracting leading expertise to the area. As well as boosting the region’s economy through nurturing business and securing long-term employment growth, the Future Technology Centre is an invaluable resource for companies developing low carbon vehicle technologies which will play a pivotal role in evolving the UK’s capability and becoming a European leader.”

Confirmed tenants of the Future Technology Centre include Smith Electric Vehicles – manufacturer and developer of zero-emission commercial electric vehicles. Smith Electric Vehicles has a long-standing relationship with Gateshead College and the two organisations have together developed an apprenticeship programme on Electric Vehicles demonstrating Gateshead College’s commitment to low carbon skills training. Other tenants include low carbon vehicle electronics and powertrain specialists Hyperdrive Innovation,; charge point installation experts ELM EV;  Technology company Zero Carbon Futures and Tadea’s Effective Transport Solutions, with a dedicated team of experts and state-of-the-art simulators offering driver training packages.

“The North East has been an ambassador for the adoption of low carbon vehicle technology, from boasting the largest proportion of EVs per head in the UK to implementing a fully-connected network of quick-charge points, and the Future Technology Centre can work to accelerate the UK’s ongoing integration of these technologies,” continues Judith Doyle. “Through its partnerships and collaborative projects the Centre will become a home to academic research, automotive supply chain operations, skills and training provision to act as a springboard to real-world adoption of new and emerging technologies.”

Stephen Irish, managing director of Hyperdrive Innovation, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Hyperdrive Innovation to be part of a high tech automotive cluster and the modern working environment and fully equipped mechanical and electronic engineering facilities provide the ideal headquarters to support the continued growth of our technology business.”

The Government’s Regional Growth Fund is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow.  It supports projects and programmes committed to leveraging private investment and delivering sustainable jobs.  A sixth round of funding will launch in June. For more information, please go to www.bis.gov.uk/rgf