Williams F1 and the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) formally signed an agreement today to inaugurate the Williams Technology Centre (WTC). QSTP is a world class incubator for the research, development and commercialisation of new technologies that has attracted significant R&D investment from companies such as Shell, َQatar Petroleum, Exxon Mobil and GE. QSTP is part of the Qatar Foundation which also incorporates Education City, which hosts overseas campuses for six US universities including Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M.
The Williams Technology Centre at QSTP will be the first Formula One-related Technical Centre outside the sport’s traditional heartland of Europe. The WTC will initially be tasked with the progression of two Formula One inspired R&D projects with clear commercial goals, namely the development of an industrial application large Magnetically Loaded Composite (MLC) flywheel and the advancement of Williams F1’s simulator know-how for competition and road car application.
The Williams Technology Centre will be housed in the 45,000m2 state-of-the-art QSTP complex that forms part of the Qatar Foundation’s strategic ambition to invest in, and propagate, a knowledge-based, post-carbon economy.
QSTP and Williams F1 will fund the R&D programmes and, as partners, will both benefit from the commercialisation of the technologies that have their origins in Formula One.
The MLC flywheel project will address the potential of flywheels to store and release energy very quickly, which makes the technology suitable for a variety of applications. Initial target markets are mass transit systems (both for recycling the kinetic energy of trains and trams and to allow discontinuous electricification to reduce infrastructure costs) and electric power stabilisation for renewable energy applications.
Based on the extensive experience of proprietary driver-in-the-loop (DIL) simulator development for Formula One, the second aspect to the WTC programme will be the development of new driver simulation technology for road car training, safety and entertainment, as well as competition simulators for other motorsport series.
The Williams Technology Centre is anticipated to employ 20 staff with a double digit million dollar R&D budget and a carefully projected revenue stream that will reward both Williams F1 and QSTP for their investment and support future project ambitions.
Dr Tidu Maini, Executive Chairman of QSTP said of the collaboration,
“QSTP has achieved much since 2007, whether judged by the success of its robotic surgery centre or by the quality of R&D investment from the international business community or the association with prestigious research universities. This latest collaboration with Williams F1 presents technically inspiring possibilities rooted in a solid commercial context. QSTP is focused on delivering the capacity building programmes, built for young Qataris and new Qatari owned companies founded on technology and the success of technologies such as the MLC flywheel is something we are very keen to support and promote at QSTP. We are delighted to be entering into this partnership.”
In response, Frank Williams of Williams F1 said,
“It is perhaps outside of conventional practice for a Formula One team to move such activities out of Europe, but we have been very impressed with the fertile environment QSTP presents for research and development and the vision Her Highness Sheikha Mozah has for Qatar leading in the development of beneficial technologies. After detailed consideration, we have decided that this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss, and we look forward to supporting the future of Williams F1 in part from the development and application of Formula One-inspired technologies to the wider world.”
To celebrate today’s announcement, the Qatar Science & Technology Park identity will form a prominent element of the team’s on-car race livery for this weekend’s inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.