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NAA Update: The NAA is here to help you with issues ranging from responding to the APC’s new Capability Report to applications for new funding opportunities to Brexit

New funding, Brexit, Low Carbon Vehicle Show, International Festival of Business, APC Capability Study, NAA Awards – there’s a lot going on, to find out more, and how the NAA can help you in many of these areas…

Between three of us we have been attending many sessions on funding at this moment, primarily R&D. With five relevant funding calls for Automotive either open or about to be open there has to be something for most companies! Many of these calls link into Low Carbon Vehicles or Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and the news from both the LowCVP Conference and the LCV2016 preview event was that there should be no negative impact of BREXIT on the UK low carbon vehicle sector.

These funds are already committed, so even if they are using European money they are expected to continue, the challenge is likely to be with funds that have not yet been committed to programmes. For this we will have to wait and see what will happen post-vote; the key message we are getting is that it is business as usual until there is more information. Clearly we will be trying to keep abreast of all new information as and when it happens, and the NAA is here to help its member companies with information and advice about life in the Brexit automotive supply chain.

You have less than one week to commit to joining the NAA stand at the CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle Show, please contact myself or Paul Clarke urgently if this is something that you have been meaning to “get around to it”. I used to have a sticker that said “round toits banned here” – perhaps I need to find a batch and that will be our Christmas Card this year!

For those of you who will be impacted by the apprenticeship levy the issuing of the guidance has been delayed again. Once it is issued we will be working with EEF and their expert (who has a knack of putting it into plain English that we all understand) to share the information with everyone, obviously the meeting will be set up quite quickly so watch out for the email invite from us.

We have had excellent feedback from the 2015 SME Investments map we released in June and are looking to follow it up with a similar activity linked into the capability of our member companies following the launch of the APC Capability Study – see more details below about this important new study – all NAA members need to familiarise themselves with the opportunities in this document. Therefore please expect to receive an email from me shortly identifying the information that we require and those who send it back without being chased before the closing date will be entered into a prize draw!

I hope that you, like me attended several events at the International Festival of Business. One that I attended, where I wasn’t speaking, was the UKTI Future-Proofing the UK Automotive Supply Chain. Lawrence Davies chaired the session and mentioned many of our companies who have invested during the last year, and Garry Wilson spoke about the APC. However for me the highlight of the event was the session that Dr Faye Smith led on the opportunities and UK capability in lightweighting and composites. It was a very interesting session and Faye highlighted the strength of the composites industry in the NW.

The second session was about the opportunities and UK capability in connected and autonomous vehicles. When combined with the sessions in the Automotive Leaders Summit the following day at the Titanic Hotel this has meant I have had much opportunity to consider the future of personal and freight transportation. Close to my heart was the EU Truck Platooning Challenge that occurred earlier this year in the Netherlands, that then led to a hearty debate about how that would work at a T-junction in the UK!

We also had much debate about self driving cars and whether it would ever happen; I liken it to when I had my first “portable” PC, which was a Compaq, and looked like my portable sewing machine and weighed about the same 10kg as compared to my current PC which weighs 786g. The largest Excel equivalent file that it could cope with was around 15kB and I needed to be an expert in C:> language to ensure it kept working; as compared to nowadays where I just open the PC, and expect it to work perfectly within seconds. From our early steps in autonomous cars, in less than the 30 years that passed from my PC example I’m certain that we will have the same response to autonomous cars. Like the PC example there will be a range of new skills, new jobs and companies that will arrive and we just need to be open to change and ensure that we don’t get left behind in this future world within Automotive.

I’m sure that there will be much more about Connected and Autonomous vehicles in the near future and for any of you who are interested in opportunities in that area, please contact me.

Don’t forget that you also need to go and register for the NAA Awards and download the application forms. The closing date is getting nearer, and while you’re at it, book your table for the dinner – if you get all this admin done before you go on holiday, it will be one less item when you get back!

We have also recently heard of new funding for companies wanting to grow their exports in Greater Manchester. If interested, either contact us and we can give you a quick summary, or go directly to the Business Growth Hub in Manchester.

After writing this in the heat of July I hope that those of you about to go on holiday have the benefit of it whereas in June I had sub-20 temperatures for my two weeks!  There may be an extra issue of the newsletter in August as we are already seeing many items that probably need to be covered prior to then!

Carol

Investing in England's North West - European Regional Development Fund
Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham