What Brexit? Ford's setting up a new UK innovation centre at Here East in London for technology research and development

Lynsey Barber
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Transport innovation will be a focus of Ford (Source: Getty)

Ford has chosen the UK as the location for its development of smarter transport shrugging off any concerns over Brexit.

The car brand's European smart cities research centre will based at Here East, the business hub in Stratford's Olympic park which is also home to BT Sport, University College London, and the newly opened Plexal tech hub.

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“Basing our rapidly growing team here in the heart of mobility innovation in London is critical to accelerating our learning and development of new technologies," said Ford's vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"The location at Here East will allow us greater collaboration and the out-of-the-box thinking needed to tackle the urban transport challenges of tomorrow. We will also be ideally placed to build on existing partner projects and have access to London’s world-class digital talent. Both will be key as we build towards our ambition of being a global leader in mobility solutions.”

It will open the Smart mobility Innovation Centre later this year and will initially house 40 people. The park's private roads could be used in future by the car company for testing vehicles. It is already testing plug-in hybrid transit vans across the capital.

Ford is also one of many carmakers going big on driverless car technology. It aims to get fully autonomous vehicles onto the roads by 2021 with trials set for UK motorways in 2019.

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The more than 100-year-old brand was found to be the furthest ahead in developing driverless car technology according to an independent study from Navigant, ahead of the likes of tech companies such as Google's Waymo, Tesla and Uber as well as other car brands like Volkswagen and General Motors.

Ford recently signalled its focus on the technology with the appointment of the head of its driverless car unit, Jim Hackett, as chief executive in a management shake up.

The plans came as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan promised to help make London the world leading location for so-called smart city technologies.

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