The Government minister for universities and science was in Oxfordshire on Monday to announce funding for a new £15 million apprenticeship centre and to open two state-of-the-art buildings at Culham Science Centre, near Abingdon
Jo Johnson, brother of Boris Johnson, aired his delight at advances in technology happening at the site and took the opportunity to voice his support for the European Union (EU).
Mr Johnson was on hand to help hundreds of staff celebrate the opening of the Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) robotics building and the Materials Research Facility site, which cost £10 million each.
The Conservative MP for Orpington said: “This is one of the greatest examples of all the benefits we get as a country from our membership of the European Union.
“It’s enough for the area to have 600 highly-skilled jobs and 400 more contractors working in the Culham area.
“The hard work of scientists, academics and apprentices here in Culham is a prime example of why the UK is a world leader in scientific discovery.
“These new facilities will take the next steps in developing clean fusion energy, and train apprentices to support local businesses and growth.”
The apprenticeship centre to be built at the science centre will enable 125 apprentices to be trained on site in specialist engineering areas.
Culham Science Centre opened in 1965 and focuses its research on fusion energy – a sustainable type of energy that uses heat. But, as research has continued, advances have also been made in robotics and in materials for use in nuclear power stations.
The two new buildings, which have been up and running since the start of the 2016, will allow these advancements to be used by other industries and businesses.
A new Oxford Advanced Skills Centre to train the apprentices is expected to be up and running by 2021.
The Culham Science Centre’s research into fusion energy has been funded by the European Union to the tune of £2.5 billion.
Mr Johnson said: “Our membership of the EU, and the funding and international collaboration it brings, is vital to the world-leading research here at Culham and across the UK.”
His views could put him at odds with his older brother and former Henley MP and London mayor Boris Johnson, now Uxbridge MP, a prominent figure in the campaign to leave the EU.
Head of Culham Centre Fusion Energy, Steve Cowley, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the minister of state for universities and science to open two new state-of-the-art facilities.
“It’s an amazing achievement.”