Universities and Science Minister Greg Clark visited the Transport Systems Catapult to announce a £79.3 million regional investment – and get a glimpse of transport’s future.
Mr Clark began Friday’s visit by signing a Local Growth Deal for the South East Midlands that will create at least 3,000 jobs and 4,000 new homes in the area by 2021. The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) also used the occasion to confirm its support for three overlapping Local Enterprise Partnerships with their bids, securing an additional £42.9million to take the total investment for the South East Midlands to over £122million.
The funding will pay for 10 transport, infrastructure and skills projects in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Bletchley, Daventry, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Milton Keynes.
Universities, Science and Cities Minister, Greg Clark said: “It is great to be signing this Growth Deal and to be giving the South East Midlands more say in how investment is made in the region.
“Nobody has a greater commitment to this area than the people who live and work here, and it is only right that local people should be the architects of their own growth.
“The potential in this area is enormous and this deal will ensure we create thousands of jobs, build new homes and help businesses to grow and prosper.”
After the signing ceremony, Mr Clark was given a tour of the Transport Systems Catapult’s Imovation Centre – the UK innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, which opened its doors in June 2014. Transport Systems Catapult CEO Steve Yianni showed the minister around the new facility, and gave him an update on some of the TSC’s major programmes, including the LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pods project and the Catapult’s Modelling & Visualisation activities.
“I’ve been looking forward to coming to see the Catapult myself, because the Catapults are one of the things we feel most proud of, and to see it in operation – and see the possibilities of what it is going to achieve in the future – is very exciting,” Mr Clark said at the end of his three-hour visit.
“The driverless cars are fascinating,” he added, “because they are going to have big benefits for everyone in society and we want to be at the forefront of that. But I think a lot of the data visualisation that is already on display here and which we’ll make more use of in the future also shows the way to go, and it’s interesting to see some of the data captures that are already possible at the moment.”