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19 July, 2011 - 09:08 By News Desk

Lotus funding bid goes into overdrive

Vince Cable

Group Lotus in Norfolk UK has made a fresh bid for government funding to underpin future production at its Hethel plant.

Having had an application for a £27.5 million loan rejected by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the iconic British carmaker tells Business Weekly it submitted a bid for a Regional Growth Funding grant by the July 1 guillotine.

A spokesman said Lotus would have to wait until October to be informed of the outcome.

It is hoping that yesterday’s visit to its production flagship by Business Minister Vince Cable will help its case. Cable also visited Norwich Research Park and said he saw a bright future for engineering, science and innovation in East Anglia. Not without production at Lotus running full throttle he won’t!

Cable saw the breadth of engineering and manufacturing from one of the world’s most iconic automotive companies at Hethel. As well as seeing the production facilities and meeting apprentices, he rode in the zero emission electric taxi on which Lotus has been working. Lotus has been involved in the engineering of the hydrogen fuel cell that is used as a range extender in the famous London ‘black cab’.

Cable said: “Lotus is a great example of a UK niche vehicle manufacturer with a wow factor that is in demand across the world. Through its cars, motorsport and engineering divisions Lotus makes a key contribution to the UK automotive sector and the wider economy through the exports of its iconic cars and its world-class design engineering consultancy.”

The Business Secretary went on to the Hethel Engineering Centre which supports high performance engineering companies and the wider manufacturing sector in the region.

His next stop was Norwich Research Park, which received £26 million of funding in the Budget in March. The Business Secretary opened its new Innovation Centre.

Cable said: “I was delighted to be able to open world-class science and research facilities such as these, which will be vital to the UK’s economic growth and will help ensure our future competiveness.

“This Innovation Centre will put Norwich Research Park firmly on the map as one of the world’s top science parks. Together with the investment from Government announced in the Budget, it underlines the importance of commercialising research and fostering relationships between academics and industry.”

• Photograph shows: Vince Cable

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