Virtual Engineering Centre wins `Education in Business’ Award

L-R Mark Harding and Senga Shufflebotham, Bentley Motors, Gillian Murray, VEC and Miri Thomas Editorial Director, Insider

The University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) has won the ‘Education in Business’ Award atthe 2016 North West Business Insider ‘Made in the North West’ Awards.

The Award recognises the benefits gained from the STRIVE collaborative project between business and the University and was accepted by VEC Director, Dr Gillian Murray.

A three-year collaborative R&D project, STRIVE (Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering), which was part-funded by AMSCI (Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative), was set-up to deliver a new digital supply chain to develop globally competitive products.

Integrated solutions

To address the challenges set by OEM client Bentley Motors, the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), a University of Liverpool initiative, in conjunction with the Northern Automotive Alliance (NAA), brought together Liverpool City Region-based technology SMEs OPTIS, DNA Agile and to provide collaborative, integrated solutions.

The Award acknowledges the huge success of STRIVE for all partners, including job creation, career development and meeting Bentley’s key strategic target of reducing product development time, while enhancing build quality through the implementation of bespoke virtual technologies into the Bentley Motors process.

The ‘Made in the North West’ Awards recognise the manufacturing excellence within the region. The judges were impressed by the collaboration with Bentley, which helped to reduce product development time while enhancing build quality, commenting that to have such a facility on our doorstep was a huge boost for the North West.

Professor Ken Badcock, Executive Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, said: “The Award is a great example of where the VEC is driving transformational change in leading UK industry through research-led innovation.”

Positive impact

Mark Harding, Manufacturing Project Leader for Continental & Flying Spur at Bentley Motors added: “The positive impact on the business gained from the deployment of the new toolsets at the Bentley site has been a direct result of this innovative collaboration between us, the University’s Virtual Engineering Centre and agile North West based SMEs.

Existing ‘off the shelf’ hardware and software solutions, including toolsets already in use, did not offer the ‘step change’ we have achieved through STRIVE to reach our strategic goals including reducing the development timescale from 54 to 48 months. The STRIVE project has also resulted in the creation of new highly-skilled roles and safeguarded over 40 jobs at Bentley.”


Carol Holden OBE, Chief Executive of the Northern Automotive Alliance, project lead for STRIVE, commented: “The STRIVE project demonstrates how collaboration between companies – especially SMEs, universities, and OEMs can be highly effective. Such collaboration is something that the NAA encourages; as a result of the STRIVE project all SME partners have experienced growth within their businesses, both in terms of revenue and jobs created.

“Optis has achieved an increase of 11 jobs, and Valuechain.comemploying 4 new people in and important sector for the region. Following the project, Value have exciting plans for new business and supply chain intelligence solutions and will be growing the teams in their new offices at Infolab 21 based at Lancaster University and at the Innovation Centre based at SciTech Daresbury.”



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