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Industry news roundup - August 2018

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At the end of each month on our website we’ll feature a roundup of the news that’s grabbed our attention from across our industry. We might not cover all of our sectors every month, but watch this space!

Motorsport

Gasly to drive for Red Bull in 2019.

Pierre Gasly has been promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull for the 2019 racing season and will replace Daniel Ricciardo in Red Bull’s senior racing team after the latter’s surprise switch to Renault. Gasly, who is set to partner Max Verstappen, has already impressed audiences in his inaugural season for Torro Rosso, with three top-ten finishes. Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has described the Frenchman as “one of the most exciting young drivers in motor sport”. Honda Racing F1 will supply both Toro Rosso and Red Bull for 2019.

Executive

Next-gen vehicle development and executive movement among giants.

The plot thickens! We’re all familiar with the speculation about various tech giants’ interest in autonomous, electric and/or connected vehicles. And it’s been fun to watch the movement at executive level within those organisations and wonder just how significant that movement might be, as each key player draws its lines in this burgeoning competition.

One of the more recent chapters in this expanding narrative is the news that Doug Field, who stepped down as Senior Vice President of engineering at Tesla last month, is to re-join previous employer Apple. In May, Tesla issued unequivocal denials in response to reports that Field was leaving, before announcing his departure in July. Upon his return to Apple, Field will work with Bob Mansfield who has been heading up Project Titan, Apple’s self-driving car programme. Although Apple has kept fairly quiet about the project, documents filed last month showed that up to 5,000 people within the company were authorised to access information about it.

Automotive

And don’t forget Dyson!

Meanwhile, Dyson has trademarked the terminology “Digital Motor” for automotive use. The term describes a brushless permanent-magnet synchronous motor previously used in the firm’s household products, which is also the kind of technology found in many of the electric vehicles currently available. Dyson’s first car is due in 2019 and the company is known to hold ambitions to grow its EV programme; it is set to expand its EV workforce from 400 to 700 people as it moves to a new campus, its second British R&D site, at Hullavington Airfield.

Future Tech

Game-changing developments in rechargeable battery technology.

Engineers at the University of Michigan have learned how to harness the power of lithium metal batteries without the associated problems of poor durability and short-circuiting. The new developments in ceramic solid-state electrolyte could double the output of current lithium ion cells, extending the range of electric vehicles and reducing the frequency of charges for mobile phones. Jeff Sakamoto, U-M associate professor of mechanical engineering, has described the technology as one that could represent a “paradigm-shift in how a battery operates,” with a “factor of 10 increase in charging speed compared to previous reports for solid state lithium batteries.”

Graduate

University of Bristol graduate could change the face of treatment for diabetes.

We’re all used to hearing about the youthful game-changers of Silicon Valley and the entrepreneurial alumni of Harvard. But perhaps it all feels a bit far away. Take inspiration, then, from a graduate who co-founded a company while studying at the University of Bristol in the west of England. Dr Harry Destecroix, 31, could become a multi-millionaire after he created a new technology that could help to treat diabetes more effectively. Destecroix co-founded Ziylo while studying for his PhD at the University of Bristol four years ago. The company created a synthetic molecule which more effectively binds glucose in the bloodstream.

Pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has purchased the technology, meaning it has the right to use the molecule to develop glucose responsive insulins which could help diabetics manage their condition and ultimately remove the risk of hypoglycaemia.

For the visionaries among us it is never too early to start, and with the right backing and an environment conducive to study, universities can be a breeding ground - both for pioneering study and entrepreneurialism.

Manufacturing & Tech

Manufacturing salaries: higher than you might think.

A report from Santander and (voice of UK manufacturing and engineering) the EEF, entitled UK Manufacturing: 2018/19 The Facts, appears to scotch the myth that manufacturing jobs are poorly paid. The report reveals that the sector enjoys an average salary of £32,500, or £3,500 above national average. The average worker in transport manufacturing, an especially lucrative sector, takes home nearly £40,000. According to EEF Chief Economist Lee Hopley, the report shows that UK manufacturing “punches above its weight” and provides “an important reminder that we’re still one of the top ten biggest manufacturing nations”. The US is the biggest destination for UK manufactured exports at £43.1bn. The EU has seven of the UK’s ten biggest destination markets, so not surprisingly the EEF has highlighted the importance of minimising disruption to trade in the EU after Brexit.