Founded in 1920 under the name “The British Electrical and Allied Industries Research Association” and quickly became known as the “The Electrical Research Association” (ERA).
It was funded jointly by the Governments Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and from subscriptions payments from its member companies. The initial government grant was designed to last only five years.
It was designed to facilitate co-operative electrical research in the UK. Allowing manufacturers, suppliers and larger users of electricity to make use of its research and technological innovation.
As it’s first five years drew to a close the future of the Association was uncertain.
In 1924 the ERA did not know whether the government grant that initially funded it would be renewed.
Its initial work up to this point had been on developing new technologies around on insulators and switches.
However, the ERA’s president, Mr Llewelyn Birchall Atkinson, was able to negotiate the continuation of the grant going into 1926 on the condition that the government would meet half of the Association’s costs that year, but gradually reduce its contribution over the following five years to a fraction of that amount.
As the association grew it required more space for its work.
In 1936 a new auxiliary laboratory at Perivale was opened by the Duke of York. Its purpose was to supplement the research services that the Electrical Research Association provides from its headquarters with government support in the interests of the electrical industry and the community.
During the Second World War the ERA gave direct assistance to the war effort. The Ministry of Labour clarified it as an “essential undertaking”.
Wartime activities included the development of radar and mine detection equipment.
In 1957 the headquarters of the ERA were opened in Leatherhead, Surrey. The ERA’s existing staff and work transferred from their previous home at Perivale laboratories
The 18-acre campus included major new laboratories and offices and has continued to the present day with the addition of several large purpose-built facilities.
Income for the ERA had traditionally come from subscriptions from its member companies and the UK Government grants.
In 1969 the ERA began a major restricting project to reflect the rapidly changing technology base of the UK Engineering sector.
By becoming the first ‘privatised’ research association the ERA was able to derive income from single client and multi-client projects.
ERA formally changed its name from The Electrical Research Association Ltd to its present name, ERA Technology Ltd in September 1979.
The organisation would act as Britain’s leading independent consulting organisations.
During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s ERA continued to grow and develop into new research areas, including RF technology and electronic systems.
It also expanded into providing a wide range of engineering consultancy services for mechanical as well as electronic and electrical systems.
In doing so it established itself as one of Britain’s leading independent consulting organisations at the leading edge of technology development.
In January 2001, the ERA organisation was transferred to a new trading company while the original company, which limited by guarantee, was renamed The ERA Foundation.
The trading operation retained the name ERA Technology and was run as a wholly commercial enterprise, responsible to its shareholders.
In September 2003, the company announced it would sell the entire issued share capital of ERA Technology to Cobham PLC.
The proceeds of this sale and sale of the property company forms the basis for the ERA Foundation’s continuing support for electrotechnology.
The ERA Foundation made major donations to The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.
A donation of £8M was been given to the Royal Academy of Engineering and £2M to the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851
These endowments enabled both organisations to fund new activities in the general field of engineering and especially those of electrotechnology, telecommunications and IT systems.
Enabling the creation of new prizes, funding of schemes to raise the profile of engineering as a career, and the creation of industrial fellowships.