Sheffield City Region’s bid to become the heartland for the UK’s advanced engineering and manufacturing activities has got an important boost from Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Speaking during a visit to Vauxhall’s plant in Luton, Dr Cable revealed that two research centres on the region’s Advanced Manufacturing Park will be among seven nationwide to benefit from a £140 million, six-year programme to create a new Technology and Innovation Centre for high value manufacturing.
News of the new Technology and Innovation Centre comes as Rotherham councillors meet to decide whether to give outlining planning permission to Rolls-Royce, allowing the aerospace giant to build three new factories on the AMP.
Dr Cable said: “Manufacturing has a key role to play in economic growth and rebalancing the economy, in particular driving exports and productivity.
“The Government is supporting manufacturing through a modern industrial strategy fit for the 21st century.”
The AMP-based Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Nuclear AMRC head the list of the seven centres that will join forces to drive the new initiative forward.
Other members of the Technology and Innovation Centre will include the Warwick Manufacturing Group – led by Cutlers’ Feast principal guest Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya – the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, the Advanced Forming Research Centre at Strathclyde University, the National Composite Centre at Bristol University and the Centre for Process Innovation, in the North East.
Local Enterprise Partnership chairman James Newman welcomed the announcement, which, he said, strengthened the City Region’s argument for becoming the home of a National Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Growth Hub, based at the AMP.
Mr Newman also highlighted the AMP’s location at the heart of the City Region’s new Enterprise Zone, which includes plans to create and attract businesses focused on technology, research and digital developments.
Tim Chapman, spokesman for the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC said the two centres looked forward to supporting even more manufacturing companies through the new Technology & Innovation Centre (TIC) programme.
“The High Value Manufacturing TIC brings together individual centres of collaborative research to create something even greater than the sum of its parts - a single network covering high-value sectors from pharmaceuticals to power generation, where knowledge gained in one area can be transferred to others,” said Mr Chapman
“The TIC funding allows the established AMRC with Boeing and the new Nuclear AMRC to work more closely with other leading centres of manufacturing research around the country, to better share knowledge and resources.”
In addition to the £140 million being invested in the TIC, the government’s Technology Strategy Board is running an £18 million competition, called Technology Inspired Innovation, to fund products inspired by new discoveries and breakthroughs, such as advanced materials, biosciences and nanoscale technologies.
The Board is also joining forces with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to run a £15 million competition for investment into the research and development of low carbon vehicles. Meanwhile, the Government has launched the new initiative called See Inside Manufacturing to ensure firms can recruit young people with the skills they need to remain at the forefront of advanced manufacturing.