UK prime minister David Cameron officially opened Williams' new Advanced Engineering facility, as the F1 team underlined the progress of its offshoot business.
The PM unveiled a dedicated 3800m/sq building, located on the same site as the Williams Martini Racing team, which is result of £8m investment by Williams over the last two years.
The facility is a state-of-the-art R&D site that features a ground floor workshop, with F1-inspired build bays, which can be used for one-off projects or low-volume production. The facility will accommodate up to 250 design engineers and also features a number of confidential rooms where projects can be worked on in complete secrecy – vital given the nature of Williams Advanced Engineering's client base.
Cameron was joined at the launch by Williams team principal Sir Frank Williams, group CEO Mike O'Driscoll and Williams Advanced Engineering MD Craig Wilson, and spoke of his admiration for Britain's motorsport hub.
“F1 is a world beating, hi-tech industry and I am very proud that Britain and British engineers and designers play such a key role within it,” he noted, in an address that also revealed that he was reviewing the way public roads could be used for motorsport [ see separate story
“Williams opening their Advanced Engineering facility in Oxfordshire is great news for the local area and a vote of confidence in our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a better future for Britain.”
The aim of Williams Advanced Engineering is simple: to use the technology, know-how and rapid development skills honed in F1 to deliver cutting edge technology solutions to the automotive, motorsport, transport and energy sectors. The company specialises in delivering energy efficient performance for its clients and does this in four key areas: hybrid power systems and electronics, dynamics, advanced lightweight materials and cutting edge aerodynamics. This expertise in energy efficient technologies first began with the 'hybridisation' of F1 cars in 2009, with Williams becoming the only team to develop its hybrid technologies entirely in house.
Although only now officially opening it new Advanced Engineering building, the business has been operating since 2011. Its first project was the Jaguar C-X75, one of the most sophisticated hybrid supercars ever made. The company is also collaborating with Nissan on its high-performance NISMO products, and is the sole supplier of the batteries that will power the cars competing in Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series. The company is expanding its operations into the energy sector and is currently working on a project to install F1-derived flywheel energy storage technology on energy grids in the Scottish highlands in a project backed by the government's Department for Energy and Climate Change.
“This new state-of-the-art building gives our talented and diverse skills base a home and provides capacity for 250 designers, engineers and technicians,” O'Driscoll added, “Williams' diversification programme has achieved much over the past few years and from here I expect Williams Advanced Engineering to make rapid progress. Improving energy efficiency is an important global concern and we are confident that Williams has the unique know-how and resources to play an important role in tackling this issue.”