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Motors and inverters benefit from £360m manufacturing plan

04 March, 2024

Collaborative UK projects to develop advanced motors, inverters and silicon carbide power modules are to receive Government funding as part of a £360m package of support for the UK manufacturing sector announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, in the run-up to his Spring Budget. The package includes £200m of joint industry and government in zero-carbon aircraft technologies, £92m for medicines and diagnostics products, and £73m for electric vehicle technologies, including motors and inverters.

The announcement follows the Advanced Manufacturing Plan, backed by £4.5bn of targeted support to boost the British manufacturing sector, that the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement in November 2023.

The new announcement reveals plans to convene a new Industry Innovation Accelerator, led by Minister for Industry Nusrat Ghani and Brian Holliday of Siemens, which will bring together digital companies and manufacturing businesses to identify how to speed up and widen the adoption of AI by UK manufacturers. This will complement the work of the AI Opportunity Forum, announced by the Prime Minister late last year.

The Chancellor has also revealed further details of the two-year £50m apprenticeship growth sector pilot announced at the Autumn Statement. From April, eligible providers of apprenticeships including pipe welders, nuclear technicians and laboratory technicians will get targeted payments worth £3,000 for every apprenticeship start. The aim is to help them to make capital investments such as buying equipment, tools and machinery that will last beyond a single apprenticeship. The scheme will explore ways to stimulate training and break down barriers to high-quality training in advanced manufacturing, engineering and green industries. Further details will be revealed later this month.

The announcement also reports that the industry co-chaired Made Smarter Commission met earlier this year to advise on delivery of the Government’s commitment to expand the Made Smarter Adoption programme, which supports the use of use advanced digital technologies by manufacturing SMEs. The government has said it will expand the programme from 2025-26.

The EV technology projects being supported by more than £36m of government funding awarded through Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) competitions, include:
• one led by the motor developer Yasa (owned since 2021 by Mercedes-Benz) to develop a dual inverter system for regenerative braking in battery EVs, enabling new designs with optimised electronics and safety systems;
• another, led by the power electronics specialist Empel Systems, to develop UK-designed and sourced silicon carbide power modules for use in high-efficiency automotive inverters and DC-DC converters; and
• a third, led by JLR, to develop a next-generation modular family of electric machines, inverters and transmissions for future vehicle platforms.

As part of the new investments, almost £200m of joint government and industry funding will go to advanced aerospace R&D projects, supporting the development of energy-efficient and zero-carbon aircraft technologies, and accelerating the transition to net-zero aviation. Funding for these projects will be delivered through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) programme and includes:
• one project, led by Goodrich, to develop a power-dense electric propulsion motor drive system for hybrid and electric aircraft, including helicopters and possibly next-generation single-aisle planes; and
• a second, led by TT Electronics, to develop high-voltage technologies to support electrical power conversion and electric machines for future more-electric and all-electric aircraft.

Hunt: aiming to make the UK a world leader in manufacturing

Announcing the new funding plans, the Chancellor said: “We’re sticking with our plan by backing the industries of the future with millions of pounds of investment to make the UK a world leader in manufacturing, securing the highly-skilled jobs of the future and delivering the long-term change our country needs to deliver a brighter future for Britain”.

Business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch added: “Today’s announcement builds on the success of our Advanced Manufacturing plan announced last year, and will ensure we continue to grow the economy, help create jobs and secure the future of great British manufacturing.”

The Chancellor’s funding announcement has been welcomed by Stephen Phipson, CEO of the manufacturers’ association, Make UK. He sees it as “a boost for key sectors that will put advanced manufacturing at the heart of the UK’s economic future. These industries will be key to addressing many of the societal challenges we face in a competitive world and highlight what can be achieved with a constructive dialogue between Government and business. Taken together they are another piece in the jigsaw of a modern industrial strategy to make the UK a world leader in key sectors of the future.”

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