Excitement as godfather of manufacturing returns to Sheffield with new project

The godfather of a world famous Sheffield research centre - whose shock departure stunned the world of manufacturing - is back in the city with a new project.
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Keith Ridgway CBE is opening a new office aimed at boosting the local forgings industry.

The co-founder and former executive dean of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre resigned in November 2019 after a clash of cultures with new bosses at Sheffield University.

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Now he is executive chair of the Advanced Forming Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde, a globally leading centre for forging and forming.

Prof Keith Ridgway. Picture: Chris EtchellsProf Keith Ridgway. Picture: Chris Etchells
Prof Keith Ridgway. Picture: Chris Etchells

The AFRC claims it offers ‘world-class expertise and cutting-edge technologies’ to turn innovative ideas into business benefits.

Led by Mr Ridgway, it is opening an office on the Olympic Legacy Park in Attercliffe to serve South Yorkshire, ‘a centre of the forging industry’. It offers ‘Tier One’ membership at £200,000-a-year and ‘Tier Two’ for £25,000-a-year cash or ‘in kind’.

The news comes in the same week The Star revealed Sheffield Forgemasters, was spending more than £120m on a 13,000 tonne main forge press.

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The city is home to many similar companies including Independent Forgings and Alloys, Abbey Forged Products, Taylor Forgings, Forged Solutions Group and Sheffield Quality Forge.

Forging involves heating metal until it is soft enough to squash into a new shape and is used extensively in the defence, aerospace, nuclear, oil and gas, power generation and steel processing sectors.

Keith Ridgway was a lecturer at Sheffield University when he and businessman Adrian Allen founded the AMRC with Boeing in 2001.

It is based on the former Orgreave Coking Works site, which was to become infamous for a battle between police and striking miners in 1984.

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The AMRC pioneered close working between academics and manufacturers and quickly made its name with a string of advances.

Today it has 123 industrial paying partners, employs more than 700 at several sites on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and includes the Nuclear AMRC and the AMRC Training Centre. It has also has attracted more than 100 companies to the area, including Boeing, McLaren, Rolls-Royce and the UK Atomic Energy Authority and has satellites in Derby, Preston, Wales, the Wirral and Korea.

Sheffield University took top spot for engineering research income in 2019, earning £124m. Some 57 per cent was from the AMRC.

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.