National Motorsport Week
National Motorsport Week (1-10 July 2016) once again celebrated the UK’s thriving motorsport industry. Here, Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA), looks ahead to the bright future of the sector in Britain – and the vital role it will play in the UK’s post-Brexit economy.
“The British motorsport industry has a well-founded reputation as a global R&D powerhouse, something National Motorsport Week seeks to celebrate. The results of June’s EU referendum are a source of understandable concern for business leaders throughout the UK, so it’s never been more important for the sector to rally together and continue to build on this position.
“We’re lucky enough to have a world-renowned cluster of motorsport excellence in the heart of the UK – Motorsport Valley®. Perhaps, the largest concentration of motorsport firms in the world, it is home to major bases and headquarters for nine out of the eleven Formula One teams, as well as the entire Formula E programme. Through securing such a high volume of teams and expertise, the UK has positioned itself as the international hub for the supply-chain of most major global motorsport series.
“Indeed, the MIA recently celebrated Motorsport Valley’s® contribution to the British economy at our Driving Future Motorsport Business Growth Conference. Taking place at the headquarters of the Sahara Force India Formula One team, we welcomed more than 200 delegates from the UK and overseas to see the Motorsport Valley® success story in action.
“As part of the conference, delegates were also invited to hear high-level contributions from the likes of Jaguar Land Rover’s Head of Research, Tony Harper; Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK; Lawrence Davies MBE, CEO of the Automotive Investment Organisation; Stephen Ball, Senior Adviser at Lockheed Martin International; Roland Meister, Head of Automotive, Aerospace and Autonomous Connected Vehicles at Innovate UK, Simon Roberts, Operations Director at McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team and Roz Bird, Commercial Director of Silverstone Park.
“The passion and knowledge on display from both delegates and speakers really shone through at the event and demonstrates that the future of the motorsport industry is in safe hands. Indeed, the conference perfectly highlighted the unparalleled depth of industry knowledge found in the UK. This is no doubt a primary contributing factor in the ongoing inward investment received from not only our established economic partners in Europe, but also those further afield.
“Looking at Formula One alone, there are some fantastic examples of recent inward investment, including Haas F1, Mercedes and Renault, while Donington is the international base for all Formula E teams. Looking closer to home, MIA members have generated more than £19 million of export business – on the back of just 11 international MIA events.
“But where are we exporting to? Interestingly Germany, regarded as a global leader in precision engineering excellence, is by far the UK’s largest and fastest growing export market for motorsport solutions and high performance engineering. I would urge British motorsport leaders to not just limit themselves to Europe. There are significant opportunities still to be unlocked in the US marketplace, worth some $20 billion, and I’d like to see UK businesses take advantage of it! The signs are good that the US could become the largest export market for British motorsport companies once the post-Brexit markets settle down.
“It’s important to remember that the UK not only leads the way in motorsport, but also high performance engineering technologies. Britain’s unparalleled engineering expertise can be transferred from motorsport into automotive, defence, aerospace, marine and beyond – both here in the UK and further afield.
“Our rich motorsport heritage should be an immense source of pride and through the hard-work and dedication of a unique cluster of companies, we’re able to provide a world-class community of knowledge and expertise. It’s important for the Government to recognise the immense contribution the industry makes to the economy, not to mention the prestige for UK high performance engineering and design which British motorsport brings to the country.
“To celebrate the UK’s motorsport industry on a global scale, the MIA arranged for 20 overseas inward investors to visit key companies across Motorsport Valley® during National Motorsport Week. As part of this, delegates enjoyed a behind-the-scenes insight into businesses including Cosworth, Donington Park, Formula E, Good Fabs, KW Special Projects, Prodrive, Ricardo and the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
“Looking ahead, as we enter the uncertain times of the post-Referendum result, there has never been a more important time for the industry to stick together – and engage vital Government support. Brexit or no Brexit, UK motorsport remains a jewel in the country’s engineering crown. Motorsport companies should see Brexit as an opportunity to explore new horizons and export their world-class solutions to entirely new markets. The relative weakness of the pound at present makes our international exports, to Europe, the US, Asia and beyond, even more competitive.
“Motorsport is renowned for being a resilient and pioneering industry, and I urge businesses to utilise these qualities as they explore new markets.”