University of Sunderland to be honoured with Consumer Champion Award

The University of Sunderland will be presented with the Global NCAP 2015 Consumer Champion Award by Alan Donnelly, former Labour MEP for Tyne and Wear, and an Honorary Fellow of the University, at a special event at noon on Friday 12th February in the National Glass Centre.

The award will be given in recognition of the University’s pioneering EU research project into Graphene, and its potential role in car production.

Global NCAP, the global watchdog on vehicle safety, gave the award to Alan last year to mark the 20th anniversary of European legislation he wrote to toughen car safety standards.

The EU laws on front and side impact crash test standards were drafted against strong opposition from sections of the car industry, but have since been credited with saving over 40,000 lives across Europe and have now been adopted to become the United Nations global standard applied in over 50 countries around the world.

Speakers at the event, ‘The Future of 21st Century Car Safety’ will include Alan Donnelly, former MEP, Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor University of Sunderland, Professor Alan Wheatley, David Ward, Global NCAP’s Secretary General, and Cllr Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council.

Alan Donnelly, former MEP for Tyne and Wear, and now Executive Chairman of Sovereign Strategy Ltd, said:

“From my work as an MEP to the pioneering research by our universities and manufacturers, car safety is a North East success story.

“Maintaining this leadership in Europe is particularly important to the North East. Sunderland makes more cars than the whole of Italy and, as our most important export market, the EU single market safeguards many thousands of local jobs in factories like Nissan, and along the supply chain.

“I am proud to have played a small part in this success story, and delighted that the University of Sunderland continues to be a trailblazer.”

Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sunderland, commented:

“I’d like to congratulate Alan on receiving the Global NCAP Award, it’s a fitting tribute to his impressive career and the global impact of his work to radically improve car safety legislation, which has saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

“We are delighted that he has decided to present his award to the University and we are honoured to accept it.

“At Sunderland we take seriously our role in sustaining the region’s important automotive sector – through our teaching of the expert workforce of the future and our research into sustainable fuel sources and new materials such as Graphene. In presenting us with this award Alan is helping us to highlight that research and build our network of industry partners.”

The University of Sunderland has been a key partner in the EU’s €1 billion Graphene Flagship project over the past two years.

The University’s iGCAuto project, which concludes in March, has been analysing how Graphene behaves when used in the production of cars.

This could develop the technologies for the next generation of vehicle safety – allowing cars to be lighter and greener, without compromising safety.

David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP, said:

“Twenty years ago the European Parliament successfully demanded tougher crash test standards which have saved tens of thousands of lives across the EU.

“With new technologies now offering the possibility of further steep reductions in road deaths and serious injuries, the role of our EU representatives as champions of consumer safety is just as important today. Their support will be needed to ensure that the full potential of these technologies is realised across Europe and worldwide.”

 You can access footage of Euro NCAP’s car crash tests demonstrating the difference between damage to vehicles before and after the introduction of the regulations here: