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Energy Research Accelerator appoints inaugural CEO

  • Significant milestone for ERA and the Midlands Engine for Growth
  • Former Rolls Royce Executive to deliver the initial phase of ERA
  • Project has already secured tens of millions of industry funding

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) has today announced the appointment of Gordon Waddington as its Chief Executive Officer. The appointment follows the announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of an initial £60 million funding for the Midlands based energy research and development hub, as a founding project of the Midlands Engine for Growth Programme.

The appointment is a significant milestone for the partnership between the six Midlands Innovation research universities (Loughborough, Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick) and the British Geological Survey, set to drive acceleration in the impact of energy research in the UK.

Sir David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham and Chairman of Midlands Innovation, said:“The appointment of Gordon Waddington is a significant milestone, not only for ERA but for the Midlands as an Engine for Growth. Gordon’s expertise will strengthen and deepen ERA’s partnerships with industry, academic and local business communities, including the new Energy Systems Catapult that will be located in Birmingham.”

Gordon Waddington, ERA CEO, added:“By building on the Midlands’ industrial heritage and technical expertise, ERA will not only help ensure the region maintains its position as a manufacturing and innovation hub, but can create jobs and wealth to fulfil its potential as an Engine for Growth.”

Dr Helen Turner, Director of Midlands Innovation, added: “Gordon’s experience in building partnerships combined with his strategic vision and industry knowledge will be key to overcoming the challenges that can hold innovation back from delivering on its potential.”

Based on complementary Thermal (T-ERA), Integrated systems (I-ERA) and Geo and gaseous (G-ERA) research strands, ERA will bring together the very best in energy research. It will build on the Midlands’ extensive industrial base to tackle the biggest energy challenges, such as decarbonising transportation and manufacturing, and making best use of the energy wasted in heating and cooling.

A key part of ERA’s remit will be to deliver new products, investment, jobs and growth to establish the UK as the global leader in energy development as well as foster the next generation of leading talent to maintain that position.

Gordon’s role will initially focus on establishing ERA’s partnerships with the wider academic, business and industry communities, as well as the necessary governance structure to ensure it is ready to deliver on its aims. In addition to the £60 million announcement by Government, the project has already secured tens of millions of funding from a coalition of industry backers including Jaguar Land Rover, Siemens and leading SMEs Blueprint and the Dearman Engine Company. 

Sir David Greenaway further commented:“ERA is uniquely placed to deliver in the timeframe required for the UK to meet its carbon reduction targets and stay ahead of competitors. It will transform the existing knowledge base to become the first truly embedded cross disciplinary research hub, working in collaboration with industry to drive jobs and growth.”

Notes for editors

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Gordon Waddington brings almost 40 years’ of engineering, strategy and leadership experience to the ERA partnership from both within and beyond the energy sector. This includes:

36 years at Rolls Royce, the world leading power-system designer and manufacturer, where amongst other roles he was Chief Engineer for the Typhoon Engine project and led the company’s Civil Nuclear New Build programme.

Co-authoring the Vision 2020 strategy that is playing a significant role in guiding development of the European aviation industry.

Leading the 2014 Government and National Nuclear Laboratory investigation into the potential of Small Modular Reactors to contribute to the UK’s low carbon future.

In addition to the above Gordon is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineers and a former Chairman of the Industrial Advisory Board at Imperial College London. He was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society British Gold Medal for contributions to technology advances in 2001. 

The Energy Research Accelerator is based around a founding partnership between six leading UK Universities in the Midlands region – The Universities of Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick - and the British Geological Survey (BGS). Working with multiple industry partners. It will create new transformative and disruptive technologies that can be deployed in the Midlands’ growing manufacturing sectors creating new products for the UK and global market. It will provide new pathways to clean and resilient integrated energy systems that can be demonstrated and owned within city communities in the Midlands.

Midlands Innovation is a group of leading research-intensive universities - Aston, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick - that is boosting research collaboration and sharing of equipment. The partnership is at the heart of the Midlands Engine for Growth.

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