Full speed ahead: maintaining UK excellence in motorsport and aerospace - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

1 Introduction

1.  The motorsport and aerospace industries represent two jewels in the crown of UK manufacturing. The United Kingdom is a world leader in the motorsport industry, and boasts the world's second largest aerospace sector after the USA.

2.  Both of these industries represent the best of UK manufacturing, and form key parts of the higher value-added economy. They have many common characteristics and often work closely on shared challenges. The motorsport and aerospace industries, are knowledge-intensive, utilise a highly skilled work force and are constantly investing in Research and Development to improve their product and to maintain their edge over international competition. These are industries that need to form the basis of the UK economy in the future, and are particularly important in efforts to rebalance the economy to ensure the UK has an appropriate mix of service and manufacturing industries.

3.  This Report both celebrates the successes of the industries and looks to the future to examine what role the Government needs to play to ensure that these industries stay ahead of their international competitors. In addition to examining government policies directly targeted at these sectors the Report discusses the wider issues which impact on the industries, including whether the education system is properly equipping the UK workforce with the skills that businesses need; the growing need for universities and businesses to work together more effectively, and the role that both sectors can play to reduce carbon emissions.

Our inquiry

4.  In the course of this inquiry, we received written submissions from 24 organisations. We held three oral evidence sessions: the first concentrated on the aerospace industry, with representatives from Airbus, BAE Systems, the Royal Aeronautical Society and A|D|S, the industry trade association. The second explored motorsport issues with the Motorsport Industry Association, the Motor Sports Association, Lola—a motorsport SME (Small and medium-sized business)—and Dr Dickison, a lecturer at Coventry University. At our final session we questioned the Minister responsible for these two sectors, Ian Lucas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

5.   We also undertook four visits in connection with this inquiry. The first was to Bristol where we met representatives from GKN and Airbus and visited the aerospace department at Bristol University. During our visit to France and Italy, in connection with our inquiry into "Exporting out of recession"[1] we were able to visit Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse. Our third visit was to Silverstone where we met with the track management, academics, SMEs and the Brawn GP Formula One team.[2] The final visit was to Rolls-Royce's base in Derby to discuss its involvement in government-supported research projects. Our visits always provide us with an excellent opportunity to be appraised of activity on the ground. Through discussions with people who work in these industries we are able to gain a much fuller understanding of what the Government needs to do to support these sectors and to protect their positions as global leaders. A full account of our visits can be found in the Annex at the end of the Report.[3]

Space sector

6.  While this Report concentrates on the motorsport and aerospace industries, we should not forget the vibrant space sector which forms part of the aerospace industry. During the course of this inquiry we became concerned that not enough attention was being paid by Government to the space sector, something we ourselves were guilty of when drawing up our terms of reference for this inquiry. We believe that this is often the result of an over-concentration on the scientific aspects of space which overlooks the fact that there is a hi-tech industry which has developed from it—most notably the manufacturing of satellites. The consumer derives enormous benefits from space technology of which the most noticeable are satellite television and GPS navigation systems. The UK has a flourishing space sector, which was clearly described to us by EADS Astrium, the space branch of the European aerospace and defence firm:

Space is one of the UK's most hi-tech, high-skilled, high-growth, value adding and strategic sectors, adding £6 billion to the UK economy in 2008 (including £500 million directly in the manufacturing sector), and supporting over 18,000 direct jobs, and 60,000 jobs indirectly. The UK has built up a 7% slice of a fast-growing global space market, estimated to be worth €500 billion by 2020. Space is one of the UK's most R&D intensive industries, on a par with pharmaceuticals and aerospace and six times the national average.[4]

7.  Despite this, it is the scientific agenda which dominates discussions of space. Ian Lucas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, illustrated this point when he said:

I tend to associate space with the Apollo missions still, but I think there is a much more basic involvement of space in industry as a whole now, and I think that we need to reflect that in our thinking.[5]

We do not underestimate the importance of the scientific aspect of space research, but we believe that space now needs to be seen as part of mainstream high-technology manufacturing and industry; it is no longer a purely scientific endeavour. Due to time constraints we have not been able to give the space sector the attention it deserves during this inquiry. We recommend to our successor committee that it considers conducting an inquiry into the role of the space sector in the UK economy.

1   Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, Third Report of the Session 2009-10, Exporting out of recession, HC 266 Back

2   Brawn has since been bought out by Mercedes. Back

3   See p 63 ff. Back

4   Ev 97 Back

5   Q 256 Back

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