Godfather of Sheffield University research centre in shock departure

The Godfather of a world famous Sheffield University research centre has resigned in a shock move over a clash of cultures.

By David Walsh
Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 12:33 pm
Keith Ridgway CBE is co-founder of the AMRC which which has grown to become hugely influential in the UK and abroad.

Keith Ridgway CBE has left his post as executive dean of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, an organisation he helped establish and which has grown to become hugely influential in the UK and abroad.

The Star understands Mr Ridgway, and his wife Christine who worked with him, chose to leave following a governance review which indicated the AMRC would be more tightly controlled by the university.

An email from vice chancellor Koen Lamberts to staff said he had retired and thanked him for his service.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The AMRC is run with an entrepreneurial research and development culture at arm’s length from the main university. It is understood academia-focused bosses were demanding more oversight.

Alarm bells rang when Mr Lamberts cancelled plans to double the size of the AMRC Training Centre shortly after he joined the university last year.

Mr Ridgway is now executive chair of the Advanced Forming Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde, raising fears his close personal relationships with captains of industry could result in an exodus that weakens the AMRC.

Keith Ridgway and Adrian Allen co-founded the AMRC with Boeing in 2001. It was set up on the former Orgreave coking site, which was to become infamous for a battle between police and striking miners in 1984.

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

Today it has more than 100 industrial paying partners, employs more than 700 in several hi-tech buildings and has attracted more than 100 companies to the surrounding Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Rolls-Royce, McLaren and Boeing all have factories within a stone’s throw of the site and it has satellites in Derby, Preston, Wales, the Wirral and Korea and a successful Training Centre for hundreds of apprentices.

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

Prof Koen Lamberts said: "Professor Keith Ridgway will step down from his role of executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC at the end of this month. We would like to thank Keith for his leadership and the pivotal role he has played in the development and success of the AMRC over the last 20 years.

“Keith was here at the very beginning as a founder and it is a testament to his hard work, innovation and creativity that the AMRC has grown from small roots into a leading centre with a global reputation for advanced manufacturing translational research and development."