Manufacturers, academics and key stakeholders gathered at Sunderland College to address the automotive industry’s future needs.

The college’s Washington Campus hosted the Automotive Innovation Post 2030 Workshop, part of a series of research projects led by the University of Leeds, which brings together key industry experts and industrialists.

Evolving from a guest spot on Dr Gary Graham’s module, ‘Innovation’ designed and delivered by University of Leeds Researcher, John Barnett, to the final year students at the university’s Business School, the first of these projects focuses on the automotive industry in the North East and the development of Electrification, Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, Smart Cities, manufacturing and supply chains.

John, who is Chair of Sunderland College’s Governing Body and an industrialist by profession, with almost 40 years’ experience in manufacturing and engineering, said:

“I’m delighted that we can use the North East for this first step of research. The North East Automotive Industry is key to the success of the region in every sector and the information gathered by this workshop will hopefully help shape the Automotive Industry needs for the future.”

Supported by the North East Automotive Alliance, with participation from companies and organisations such as Komatsu, Elring Klinger, Nifco, Marelli, Adient, Sunderland City Council, Zero Carbon Futures. Attendance at the conference had a diverse range of key stakeholders.

The day began with Professor Chris Rogers from the University of Birmingham speaking about Future City Mobility. This set the stage for the rest of the workshop that fostered a participative design approach, delivered by Dr Christina Phillips from Liverpool John Moores University, activities included

an opportunity for delegates to explore potential challenges facing the industry, how to proactively overcome them and strategies to create a better future.

Dr Graham and John Barnett were awarded funding from the LUBS research challenge fund which supported the planning and delivery of the workshop in conjunction with the NEAA.

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