Coventry and Warwickshire will remain at the heart of cutting-edge automotive design as the industry moves into the age of electric vehicles according to leaders in the sector.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Champions – a group of around 200 business leaders in the region – highlighted the design prowess of the region at a major event held at the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre.
Matthew Beaven, Chief Designer of Exteriors for Jaguar Land Rover and former Coventry University alumni, outlined his work on the Jaguar I-PACE and emphasised the design heritage of the region and the strength of the area’s two universities.
Beaven returned to work at JLR 18 years ago after starting his career there as a clay modeller in 1986 and then completing his degree at Coventry University.
He was joined by Steve Pearce from Imagination, a global brand experience company and leaders in the virtual reality world who have opened offices in Coventry to purely service the growing demand within the automotive sectors in the area.
Les Ratcliffe, Chairman for CW Place Board and former Head of Community Relations for JLR, said that while the global industry might be in-flux, the design expertise of Coventry and Warwickshire would continue to serve it well.
“The Champions event highlighted how crucial Coventry and Warwickshire is to the global automotive industry with the wide range of large and small sector companies in our area,” he said.
“Imagination created the iconic launches for new cars including the launch of Jaguar’s F-PACE model in a loop-the-loop stunt which was viewed by more than 30 million people and they opened their offices in Coventry in 2014 to focus solely on their work in the region.
“Matthew also emphasised how the region’s universities have continued to supply some of the brightest minds to the design industry.
“Manufacturing may be able to move around an increasingly smaller world, but it is clear that many of the thought leaders are bred here and will continue to be based here.
“It’s great to see that Champions events are able to bring together influential business leaders in the region to promote the area as a great place to do business. We hope this will continue to draw other leaders in the automotive and wider industries to base themselves here.”
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The discussions on the importance of Coventry as a major player in the UK economy were echoed by Anna Clarke and Simon Williams from Sainsbury’s Tu clothing, who discussed the role of the company – which is celebrating its 150th birthday – in the region with a large presence at Ansty Park and Walsgrave.
The Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre was also placed at the forefront of the region with Dr Lina Huertas outlining the opportunities provided for apprentices and the key research that is undertaken at the facility.
Nic Erskine, Manager for CW Champions, added: “As our first Champions event of the year, we were thrilled to have such a large turnout at the impressive venue of the AMTC.
“CW Champions continues to go from strength-to-strength as an organisation that attracts key business leaders and influential speakers in the region and it is great to see how well the area is promoted.”