Motorsport firm M-Sport has been given a £1.3 million boost to help it create more than 100 jobs at a centre of excellence.

The cash, from Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership via the Government's Regional Growth Fund, will help develop a £14.77m evaluation centre at M-Sport's base at Dovenby Hall, near Cockermouth.

The 10,723 sq m technical facility will allow M-Sport to move into the wider automotive sector and attract mainstream motor manufacturers looking for a cutting-edge facility to design and test new technology.

Malcolm Wilson OBE, managing director of M-Sport, said: “It’s always been important for me to keep the business in Cumbria, and with the help of Cumbria LEP we’re seeing the growth of more and more businesses in our region.

“The M-Sport Evaluation Centre will provide a unique centre of engineering excellence – allowing world leaders in automotive technology to follow their concepts from design and development, right through to production.

“Our region is fast becoming a great place for business, and we’re proud to be a part of that.”

It will be the only one of its kind in the UK, creating 100 jobs, and Cumbria LEP says in addition to M-Sport's 2.5km testing track facility completed in 2017, the overall investment impact in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) to Cumbria is estimated at £24.4m by December 2025.

M-Sport’s plans for the aspiring centre of excellence include expanding its motor-sport design, as well as development in areas such as electric and battery car technologies and composite parts production – providing the company with the ability to test and build cars of the future.

The LEP’s investment in the project, it said, makes sure that 977 sq m of the Centre will be available for hire by third parties for research and development and 960 sq m will be available for hire on a ‘shared use’ basis alongside M-Sport’s own activities.

It added: "This will enable Cumbria to play its part in developing innovation assets in the Northern Powerhouse region that can contribute to the Grand Challenge set out the UK Industrial Strategy to become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility."

Jim Jackson, chair of the investment panel at Cumbria LEP, said: “Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership is delighted to commit £1.3m of Growth Deal funding to support this project.

“It is particularly pleasing that this contribution will help M-Sport take advantage of new opportunities such as renewable energy, and create over 100 new jobs, while allowing mainstream motor manufacturers and automotive leaders to utilise the high-tech site and follow projects from concept to completion.

“This investment is another step forward in the Growth Deal programme which aims to boost Cumbria’s economy and help our businesses to grow and prosper.”

Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Minister Jake Berry said: “We’re committed to supporting economic growth across the whole of the Northern Powerhouse and levelling up our regions.

“I’m delighted that this £1.3 million investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund has supported M-Sport’s exciting expansion plans and the development of their cutting-edge centre.

“Not only will this create local jobs but it will help drive further investment in Cumbria, bringing motorsport and engineering excellence to this vital region within the Northern Powerhouse.”