Clustering Innovation

A number of larger test organisations both in the UK and abroad are expanding into new fields of technology and clustering their expertise with research and development experts in related industries.

At an event in Millbrook last year, the CEO made the point that never in its history had the organisation ventured into areas of technology that weren’t squarely embedded in the automotive industry. He was referring to low latency telecommunications in general and 5G in particular.

Autonomous vehicles and 5G communications are so closely entwined that it’s essential that a test house such as Millbrook expands its expertise and facilities to accommodate unfamiliar technology.

Indeed, within the automotive sector, the test house giants of Millbrook, Thatcham Research and HORIBA MIRA are overlapping their boundaries and collaborating where possible to achieve the necessary improvements in the industry. Both Millbrook and HORIBA MIRA have new battery testing facilities and are in competition for the same clients. Despite this, when asked if the two organisations work together or distance themselves from each other, a Millbrook spokesman told me that although client projects are held under a strict veil of secrecy, there are other projects run by the company’s own researchers that are shared within the industry to move technology forward at the pace required to meet future trends.

HORIBA MIRA has long been home to the MIRA Technology Park, a haven for innovators in the automotive industry with ready access to expertise and testing facilities. Now, HORIBA MIRA has announcd that the latest company to take up residence in the park is American “Plug and Play”. Between the two companies, they’re creating the UK’s first Mobility Innovation Hub,

Similar to Innovate UK, Plug and Play is an innovation platform for bringing together start-ups, entrepreneurial investors and global corporations. According to Plug and Play, the global mobility industry is facing unprecedented change amid megatrends in EVs and connected and autonomous vehicles. This is driving the need to accelerate innovation through investment in talent and technology.

According to MIRA Technology Park’s Jack Bartlett, the collaboration will provide large corporate organisations in the mobility sector with a means to innovate, utilising the benefits of the established and proven Plug and Play innovation model and the location benefits of MIRA Technology Park.

“Plug and Play’s decision to set up their UK mobility operations here will be a major step forward in how the UK industry will develop and deploy the next generation of automobiles,” he says.

Such trends being set by large test organisations are likely to change the test house landscape. Whether a niche test specialist or a large multi-discipline test house, there is a need now to engage with a wider range of technology providers as the overlaps between disciplines grow broader.

Jonathan Newell
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