Government to harness 'brilliant' research in Sheffield to boost the UK

The government is determined to harness “brilliant” research at a university base in Sheffield to drive innovation in all parts of the UK.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 12:00 pm

Universities minister Chris Skidmore MP, said the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre was “supercharging” manufacturing in the North and helping to secure the UK’s status as a “global science superpower.”

Mr Skidmore toured the AMRC, part of The University of Sheffield, to see how academia, industry and government work together to tackle manufacturing challenges and drive forward sectors including aerospace, energy and construction.

He also discussed the type of investment, commitment and structures the North needs to build the innovation, skills and business base required to rebalance the UK economy, reshore industry and recognise its full potential.

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Universities minister Chris Skidmore, left, with Andy Storer, chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC.

He said: “Driving innovation in all parts of the UK is vital. We’re determined to harness brilliant research like this, to grow the economy and secure our status as a global science superpower.”

Vice chancellor, Prof Koen Lamberts, said: “This model could be one of the key drivers for Northern Powerhouse growth, and we are excited to explore how we can work with other universities to adapt it to support towns, cities and industry sectors across the North of England.”

His comments came after former head of the AMRC, Prof Keith Ridgway, called for it to become independent of the university to ensure the whole of the North benefits from its world-leading work.

Prof Ridgway, who left the AMRC in the autumn, said the current ownership “severely restricts” access to expertise at other universities and the impact of its work is too focused on South Yorkshire rather than the whole of the North.

Keith Ridgway CBE is co-founder of the AMRC.

The AMRC pioneered paid work by academics for manufacturers and led to a Nuclear AMRC, an apprentice training centre and satellites in Derby, Wales, Preston, the Wirral and South Korea. It also powered the engineering department to top spot for research income this year, overtaking Imperial and Cambridge, earning £124m, some 57 per cent from the AMRC.

Prof Ridgway is now the executive chair of the Advanced Forming Research Centre at Strathclyde University. Steve Foxley is the new executive director of the AMRC. He is a former managing director at global engineering giant Siemens.