Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury visits Loughborough University

Professor Dani Strickland, Dr Kathryn North, Professor Dan Parsons, Darren Jones MP, Dr Jeevun Sandher, Professor Nick Jennings

On Wednesday 27 March, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones MP visited Loughborough University. Darren, who is the Member of Parliament for Bristol North West, visited the University with Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Loughborough, Jeevun Sandher.

They visited LUinc, Loughborough University’s business incubator which brings together entrepreneurs from on and off campus, including Loughborough graduates, in one supportive start-up community. There, they held conversations with entrepreneurs who showcased their business ventures and heard about the broader work carried out on Loughborough University’s Science and Enterprise Park (LUSEP).

Darren also met with Intelligent Energy – one of the world’s leading hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers who have part of their operations based on LUSEP. At this meeting, he heard about their work on making progress towards net-zero goals, including a class of zero-emission motor racing vehicles.

Following this, he received a tour of the University’s National Centre for Combustion and Aerothermal Technology (NCCAT). There, the visitors heard about recent work carried out at NCCAT, including the Rolls-Royce-led project with easyJet to develop hydrogen combustion engine technology capable of powering a range of aircraft – an industry first.

To conclude the visit, Darren and Jeevun joined a roundtable discussion with senior university leaders, including Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings. They discussed the need for a government-led industrial strategy and how industry partnerships can play an effective role in achieving economic growth. Midlands Mindforge, a collaboration of eight research-intensive universities in the midlands of which Loughborough is a member, was highlighted as an excellent example of partners working together to attract investment into industry.

The roundtable discussion also gave senior leaders a platform to showcase the University’s vision of The Hydrogen Works – a Loughborough-led strategic partnership to create a hydrogen superpower in the East Midlands that helps address the challenges to deliver energy security, net zero and reduce Britain’s productivity gap. This forms part of Loughborough’s extensive research portfolio on climate change and net zero: one of the university’s three core themes in its 2030 Strategy, Creating Better Futures. Together. Darren was also shown the prototype of the world's first lead acid battery-electrolyser, developed at Loughborough University, which was recently recognised at the prestigious 2024 Hydrogen Awards.

As Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Darren Jones is responsible for holding government ministers to account on public expenditure – including on health and education. This role means he is a member of the Shadow Cabinet and works very closely with Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Chancellor, in devising the Labour Party’s plan for economic growth ahead of the next General Election. He was appointed to the role in September 2023 having previously been Chair of the influential Business and Trade Select Committee.

Following the visit, Vice Chancellor Professor Nick Jennings said: “I was pleased to welcome Darren Jones to campus today and to showcase our expertise in developing a hydrogen economy through our partnerships with industry to accelerate progress towards net zero energy production. We were also able to demonstrate the work we are doing in supporting innovative start-ups through our incubator at LUinc and enjoyed a productive discussion about how regional hubs like LUSEP can contribute to economic growth.”

After visiting Loughborough University, Darren Jones MP said: “I was delighted to visit Loughborough University and see first-hand the important work it is doing in supporting innovative businesses start-ups and scale-ups on its science and enterprise park. It has a compelling programme of research and innovation across a number of disciplines, and a strong commitment to being a leader in hydrogen technology.  Its prototype of the world's first lead acid battery-electrolyser shows the dynamic role it can play in sustainable fuel development and I look forward to hearing more about their plans for The Hydrogen Works.”

Loughborough University Policy Unit

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Sandy Robertson Policy Communications Officer