Local MP gets exclusive first look inside new £70m IAAPS facility

MP Chris Skidmore with IAAPS Engineering Director Professor Rob Oliver and Academic Director Professor Chris Brace (from left to right).

Chris Skidmore, Member of Parliament for Kingswood, Bristol, paid a visit to the IAAPS facility at the Bristol & Bath Science Park for an exclusive sneak peek inside the brand new building.

IAAPS Academic Director Professor Chris Brace and Engineering Director Professor Rob Oliver welcomed local MP Chris Skidmore, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of IAAPS since its inception stage. Skidmore had last visited the site in 2019 when he unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the construction of the £70 million pound building, which has been funded by the University of Bath, the UK Government’s Research England and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and is nearing completion.

During the hour-long tour, Skidmore was able to see the state-of-the-art test facilities, expansive office space and inviting collaboration hub in the impressive central atrium. Chris Brace and Rob Oliver explained the technical equipment and capabilities of each test cell, as well as the diverse scope of the research and innovation work which will be carried out on-site.

The impressive central atrium, the collaborative hub of the new IAAPS facility.

Commenting on the significance of the IAAPS facility not only in terms of the Government’s 2050 zero emissions goals, but also the regional impact on the South West economy, Skidmore said: “Having campaigned as the local MP in support of IAAPS and to raise government funding, and then having had the honour of revealing the foundation plaque when I was Science Minister, I am absolutely delighted to see the progress that’s been made on this internationally leading building that now will deliver the opportunities for industry and research to produce sustainable propulsion solutions that will help to deliver CO2 emissions reduction and ensure that we can achieve net zero, which I signed into law as Energy Minister, as soon as is feasible. It’s a testament to the fantastic work of all staff at the University of Bath and their collaborators that they have decided to play a leading role in what is going to be an essential part of the transition to a zero-carbon economy.”

Chris Skidmore received a tour of the brand new test facilities, including the state-of-the-art Powertrain Cell.

He added: “I’ve always believed the future of the economy in the West of England needs to be driven by innovation and research. We’ve seen enormous opportunities thanks to the investment in the Bristol and Bath Science Park and the companies that are located there, and now IAAPS will provide another great opportunity for the region to demonstrate world-leading expertise in advanced propulsion systems, which will be needed for the future of the automotive industry, the aviation industry and other heavy-industry sectors that need to decarbonise. I’m incredibly proud that IAAPS’ work will become a beacon for the 21st century in very much the same way as Airbus and Rolls Royce have become in our region.”

Discussing the vast R&I capabilities of IAAPS and the work that will be carried out on-site.

Professor Rob Oliver said: “We are very grateful to Chris Skidmore for the ongoing support for IAAPS and we are extremely pleased to have been able to share this milestone with him and to show him the nearly completed facility, which will enable us to conduct pioneering R&I and help tackle the many complex challenges not only the automotive sector, but also the wider transport industry is facing as we develop next generation ultra-low propulsion systems.”

Professor Chris Brace concurred: “There has never been a more pertinent time to work on cleaner energy and reduced CO2 emissions across transport and our new facility will be a hugely important contribution to creating sustainable mobility of the future. Our ambition is to be a centre of excellence that is world-leading, which is often an over-used term. But as Chris Skidmore has been able to see for himself, our state-of-the-art test and research facilities and collaboration space truly live up to this goal.”