News in brief

Rover aid approved

BMW’s supervisory board this week approved in principle the UK Government aid package for Longbridge, believed to be worth up to £150m. A decision on BMW’s overall investment will be revealed next month.

Inventive approach

Government research establishments will be free to participate in joint ventures for the first time under guidance from the Treasury issued this week. The Government hopes the change will allow UK inventions to be produced commercially in the UK rather than being taken abroad. Treasury minister Barbara Roche said the UK needed to take a more US-style attitude to risk taking.

Software launch

A new software package for the UK aerospace industry was launched last week to help cut lead times and costs and improve the often adversarial relationships between customers and suppliers. The Relationship Evaluation Tool from the Society of British Aerospace Companies has been developed by Woking-based Sigma Management Development.

NEC chips in

NEC is investing £35m at its Livingston semiconductor plant, in a move which will safeguard 200 jobs at the facility. The investment will add the latest versions of two of its microchips and increase monthly chip production from 4m to 7m.

Crine’s oil venture

A £20m venture capital fund has been set up to support development of cutting-edge technology in the offshore oil and gas industry. The fund is the brainchild of the Crine Network, the forum working to reduce the industry’s costs base.

Telecoms contracts

GEC’s telecoms subsidiary Marconi Communications has announced contracts worth £136m for integrated military communications systems in Romania and Bulgaria.