The organisation behind one of the most-ambitious autonomous vehicle trials in the UK also benefited from OxLEP Business’ first peer networks programme.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Darwin Innovation Group were entering into a five-year strategic partnership with Aviva plc, beginning with a collaboration on an ambitious autonomous vehicle trial at Harwell Campus. This comes just months after Darwin were one of dozens of businesses to access OxLEP Business’ inaugural peer networks programme, which was delivered last autumn.
Darwin is trialling an autonomous shuttle at Harwell Campus (home of OxLEP's operational hub). Created by Navya, the vehicle, controlled by 5G and satellite connectivity, will be able to pick passengers up, transport them around the campus and drop them off at their destination, all without the involvement of a human driver.
The electric shuttles will operate 24/7, which will allow the capture of data in different light and weather conditions. The vehicles will have a high level of automation – level 4 autonomy, according to SAE International’s levels of driving automation – and they do not have a steering wheel.
Darwin say that their involvement in the peer networks programme helped them to expand their business network and find solutions for similar issues, many of which were triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
They recommend that Oxfordshire businesses access OxLEP Business’ second peer networks programme, which was launched earlier this summer.
Daniela Petrovic, Delivery Director at Darwin Innovation Group, said: “Joining OxLEP Business’ Peer Networks programme provided me with an amazing opportunity to share the details of Darwin’s business successes and challenges with a group of likeminded individuals who operate in very different industries.
“What connected us all was the fact that we are all local to Oxford and we all have surprisingly similar business challenges, so we could help each other and draw on our experiences of overcoming similar obstacles.
“Our host was incredible in aligning all our interests. Not only did I expand my business network and learn a lot about local businesses, but I also established business partnerships due to business synergies we identified in the meetings. I highly recommend the programme.”
The second peer network programme is available to any SME business (trading in Oxfordshire) that has:
- Operated for at least a year
- Ideally has five or more employees (or full-time associates if in the creative industry sector*), although there were a limited number of places for businesses with two to four members of staff
- A turnover of at least £100,000 per annum
- An aspiration to improve