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19 December, 2006 - 11:17 By Staff Reporter

MK bids for £1billion energy hub

Business influencers in Milton Keynes have submitted a bid to the UK government to host a new Energy Technologies Institute.

Trade & Industry Secretary, Alistair Darling, has pledged £500 million in support, creating the potential for a £1 billion institute over a lifetime of a minimum of 10 years.

Darling said: “Not since the 1970s has energy been so high on the agenda. In just a few decades, we must radically transform our energy systems – not only how we produce our energy but also the efficiency with which we use it and how we manage its transport and storage.

“The drivers for this are powerful ones; as we strive to assure the secure and sustainable energy that is fundamental to our prosperity and way of life, both now and for the long term.

“Research excellence and innovation are central to achieving our energy goals. I believe that the Energy Technologies Institute represents the most important development in UK energy research and innovation for decades.

“By bringing together the efforts and investments of both public and private sectors and focusing on key energy challenges with a new level of scale and ambition, we have the potential to achieve step- change advances.“

The Oxford to Cambridge Arc (O2C), in which are located two world famous centres of research and innovation, and Milton Keynes – one of the UK’s fastest growing and most entrepreneurial cities – intends to be the location for the ETI.

A vision statement has been released from Invest Milton Keynes to the universities, business leaders, and economic partnerships of the arc which summarises the unique strengths of the area.

A comprehensive report presenting the area’s bid has been submitted to the Government.

It describes the advantages that would accrue to the ETI if located within the O2C arc, an area dedicated to addressing global and national challenges, such as energy security and climate change, in a manner which generates wealth for UK Plc through both indigenous growth and inward investment.

Nicholas Miles, O2C arc director, said: “The O2C arc is one of the pre-eminent areas of research and innovation in the UK, and an area of vibrant economic activity. The area has the physical and economic infrastructure required for the ETI to be successful.

“We believe that the ETI would thrive embedded in the established and successful knowledge-based community of the area. Indeed, the internationally renowned academic and scientific based companies of the area possess the means to drive forward an integrated and commercially relevant approach to energy R&D.

“Furthermore, the area is firmly positioned in national and global marketplaces and as such able to build and maintain an international brand and reputation for the Institute”

In the middle of the O2C is the city of Milton Keynes, home of DaimlerChrysler, who, with partners, are developing the smart ev, a new electric vehicle. The city’s case to the ETI is proving extremely strong, having already demonstrated the desire and ability to back energy-related initiatives.

For example, the city is utilising cutting-edge environmental technologies to implement its carbon neutral development plan.

Furthermore, all construction schemes in Milton Keynes achieve the National Home Energy Rating (NHER) of 10.0 and reach the Building Research Establishment’s Env-ironmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) level of ‘Excellent’.

The summary also highlights the area’s location as a focal point of UK transportation and communication networks, with easy access to major cities including London and Birmingham, and Heathrow international airport.

Grant Seeley, director of investment for Milton Keynes, has been instrumental in developing the report and sourcing interested parties.

He explained: “We are supported by world-class academic institutions, particularly The Open University and Cranfield University, who have extensive experience in energy research, a track record of commercial sector involvement, and strong links with people in the energy industries locally, nationally and around the world.

“We have also introduced the entrepreneurial business community and several regional development agencies to our vision as we will need their support to forge strong relationships with the ETI.”

The National Energy Foundation, based in Knowlhill, Milton Keynes already works with business, government and academia to successfully commercialise energy technologies.

A decision on the ETI’s locale is expected in 2007.

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