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Revealed: Tycoon hopes to bring F1 technology to Clyde ships

  • McLaren’s car building expertise could benefit Ferguson’s next ships
  • Government bonds needed to help firms win contracts

The tycoon who recently rescued the Clyde’s last shipbuilding yard is hoping to introduce Formula One technology to help it design more technologically-advanced vessels.

Jim McColl, who added the Ferguson yard at Port Glasgow to his collection of engineering companies around the world, has picked up tips from a recent visit to the McLaren Mercedes Technology Centre in the south of England.

The Scot says the techniques being used to build cars could be transferred to ships and make them more energy efficient.

The yard today announced it had won a £12 million contract from the Scottish government to build a third hybrid ferry for ferry operator CalMac. It will be built to the latest environmentally-friendly requirements of the industry in order to reduce fossil fuels.

McColl, whose Clyde Blowers Capital now owns some 90 businesses, has also told Daily Business that he wants the Scottish government to have the ability to put up a bond for companies bidding for contracts. This procedure is commonly used elsewhere in order to give buyers the confidence to award contractst to bidders.

He has asked Lord Smith to consider the initiative as part of his commission into giving new powers to Scotland.

McColl says that companies often fail to win business because they do not have sufficient guarantees behind them.

He has his eye on contracts coming up for some 3,000 ferries around Europe that need to be replaced or refurbished under new environmental directives.

McColl says the skills in Scotland remain but he is concerned that they need protection and encouragement. A number of shipbuilding workers are travelling from Greenock to Rosyth to continue work on the aircraft carriers.

He recently received 250 applications for just eight naval architecture positions.

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