SUNDERLAND’S £4.48million Future Technology Centre is up and running.
The development, next to the former Nissan test track in Washington, aims to be a world centre of excellence for the creation of low carbon technology.
It is already 80 per cent full, with five companies signed up to move in before it officially opens for business.
Located in the heart of the A19 Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Corridor Enterprise Zone, the centre is owned and managed by Gateshead College, which has ploughed in more than £2million to match a grant from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund.
“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,” said college principal and chief executive Judith Doyle.
“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.”
Centre tenants include Smith Electric Vehicles, which manufactures and develops zero-emission commercial vehicles.
Smith has a long-standing relationship with the college and the two organisations have developed an electric vehicles apprenticeship programme.
Other tenants include low carbon vehicle electronics and powertrain specialist 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 simulators to train drivers in the best use of electric vehicles (EVs).
“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,” said Judith Doyle.
“The Future Technology Centre can work to accelerate the UK’s ongoing integration of these technologies.
“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.”