James Dyson & his £2.5bn ‘vote of confidence in UK’

Posted on 8 Mar 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The government has welcomed James Dyson’s investment in a major new R&D facility in Wiltshire as a boost to Britain’s post-Brexit economy.

Sir James Dyson has announced a £2.5bn expansion programme that will propel his company from dominance of the high-end domestic appliance sector into advanced Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and high-density batteries.

This could place Dyson, and by extension the UK, firmly on the same map as global tech giants such as Google, Apple and Tesla Motors.

Interestingly, the mention of high-density batteries has sparked suggestions that Dyson could be moving into the electric vehicle market – a space where it would face competition from established companies including the US-based Tesla Motors.

Speaking to The Times, Sir James noted: “There is still sometimes a perception that we’re a vacuum cleaner company, but we’re now focused on software and writing algorithms as much as hardware.

“It’s the reverse of what companies such as Google are doing by getting into hardware from software, but means we are coming from a position of great strength: it’s true that ‘hardware is hard’.”

At the heart of the expansion is a giant 500-acre technology park to be built on the former RAF Hullavington airbase in Wiltshire, a short distance from Dyson’s Malmesbury HQ.

It is anticipated that the significant investment would result in the company’s workforce rising to some 14,000 people.

Sir James added: “We have always invested in Britain and we are continuing to invest because it’s one of the best places in the world for R&D, with our universities doing world-leading research. There’s a continued shortage of engineers, however, which we are attempting to tackle head-on through our new degrees, our work in schools and dialogue with government.”

The new degrees will be offered through his institute of technology, for which Sir James says he will be seeking official university status.

The investment has been warmly welcomed by the government as a vote of confidence in Britain’s future post-Brexit, for which Sir James Dyson was a significant advocate for during the lead-up to the referendum on 23 June, 2016.