News story

Nick Clegg announces £154 million for aerospace research

The Deputy PM visited Farnborough International Airshow to announce an investment of £154 million in aerospace research projects.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The money will support Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) research and development projects on the next generation of quieter, faster and more environmentally friendly planes. In particular, the funds will be used in 4 areas of aerospace engineering:

  • wings – half the world’s advanced passenger jets are flying on wings made in Britain; the government is investing £42 million into new Airbus-led research into designing, manufacturing and assembling wings
  • engines – we are investing £20 million in a project led by Rolls-Royce to explore new ways of creating lighter, greener and more fuel-efficient aircraft: this will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 75% by 2050 (compared to levels in 2000)
  • aircraft structures – £49 million will go to a GKN-led project to look at how 3D printing can help the UK produce the first ever lightweight aircraft metallic parts
  • radio – we are investing £13 million in research led by Thales to help air passengers use the internet and make phone calls more easily

The funding is part of a £2 billion pound government and industry investment to help secure more than 100,000 skilled jobs in the long term. Read more about the aerospace industrial strategy.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

The UK’s aerospace industry is going from strength to strength and helping our economic recovery. We are the number 1 aerospace industry in Europe and second only to the United States globally.

I want to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation, which is why I am pleased to announce that we are investing £154 million for research to explore new technologies like the 3D printing of plane parts and creating lighter, greener aircraft.

By working in partnership with business, we are building a stronger, more balanced economy, creating more jobs and sharing the wealth equally.

The Deputy Prime Minister will also announce that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can bid for a share of a £25 million pot from October 2014. This is expected to stimulate projects worth £50m in total. This will create jobs in the supply chain so local communities can benefit as suppliers gain new business with big companies such as Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

The results of the first competitive call for funding have been announced, with 11 projects receiving a total investment of 30 million. These involve 12 large companies, 24 SMEs and 14 universities and research organisations.

The Technology Strategy Board administers the calls for funding. Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:

The high quality of the projects from the first round of the competition illustrates how the UK can deliver leading edge innovation in the aerospace sector.

There is huge appetite from UK companies large and small to develop new products, and we look forward to receiving the next round of bids.

Published 17 July 2014