New boss for globally-renowned Sheffield research centre following predecessor's shock departure

An internationally famous Sheffield research centre has a new boss following the shock departure of his predecessor, dubbed the ‘Godfather of the AMRC’.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 2:44 pm
Keith Ridgway CBE is co-founder of the AMRC.

Steve Foxley is the new executive director of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and takes over from co-founder, Keith Ridgway, who took retirement last year following a clash of cultures with vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts.

Mr Foxley is a former managing director with global engineering giant Siemens. He starts on January 20.

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.

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Steve Foxley.

Today it employs 700 and has more than 100 paying partners including Rolls-Royce.

Mr Foxley said he had long admired the organisation.

He added: “The need for the translational manufacturing research and development skills of the AMRC has never been greater and and I am excited to be working with such an experienced and talented team to further the AMRC’s global reputation as a place of world leading innovation.”

Prof Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “Steve shares our ambition for the AMRC to play a much larger role in the wider northern economy; accelerating the adoption of the Industry 4.0 technologies as set out in the government’s Industrial Strategy.”

Mr Ridgway’s departure rocked the world of advanced manufacturing. Over 20 years he helped create a globally-renowned facility that attracted more than 100 companies to the area including Boeing, McLaren and Rolls-Royce.

Although part of the engineering department, Prof Ridgway operated at arm’s length and with entrepreneurial flair.

But a push for more oversight by university chiefs, and a new vice chancellor, led to a clash of cultures and Prof Ridgway’s shock retirements.

His absence raised fears about the AMRC’s future which Mr Foxley’s appointment aims to address.