Lancashire will be a leader in manufacturing innovation and sustainable economic growth, the UK’s regional growth minister said as he welcomed the start of construction on the new £20 million University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in the North West of England.
Luke Hall, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, made the comments to mark the first steps in building the 4,500m2
applied research centre at the heart of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone in Preston.
He said: “We are delighted to be backing the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West with a Local Growth Fund investment. This project will place Lancashire as a leader in innovation-driven, sustainable economic growth and will act as a catalyst for further inward investment.
“It will also support the creation of highly skilled jobs, bringing opportunities and prosperity to the local community.”
The flagship facility is being built using a £20 million grant from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal and extends the University of Sheffield AMRC’s footprint across the north. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a turf cutting will be held virtually bringing together key figures involved in the major development.
Steve Foxley, University of Sheffield AMRC CEO, said that while the ceremony will take place in the virtual world the new facility will have real-world impacts for the region.
He said: “We’ve taken another huge stride in realising our vision to make things better, for Lancashire and for the North This ‘state of the art’ facility will keep the Lancashire region at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and technologies and support its businesses to innovate and drive up productivity, leading industry towards a green recovery and a smart, sustainable and resilient future.”
Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The AMRC has a long history of driving manufacturing and productivity growth in the Sheffield City Region and we are really proud to be sharing our world-leading expertise and experience in Lancashire.
“AMRC North West is already having a significant impact in supporting businesses to innovate and strengthened by this new facility, will be a beacon for innovation and advanced manufacturing across the north. It is collaborations like this that will be crucial to levelling up the regions and supporting the country's post-Covid recovery.”
Even before the first spade hit the dirt for the new facility, the creation of a high-performing technical R&D team at AMRC North West is already having an impact, having supported more than 100 small- and medium-size firms across the region in the first year, and the recent announcement of a £10 million funding win to put Lancashire and North West manufacturing at the cutting edge of 5G technology with the 5G Factory of the Future programme.
Led by AMRC North West, the programme will develop a 5G industrial testbed to unlock the potential of industrial digitalisation and improve the performance of manufacturers across the North of England.
James Hughes, research director for AMRC North West, said: “It is hugely exciting for everyone involved in the AMRC North West project to see our new facility becoming a reality. This new ‘state of the art’ building will really enable us to showcase the cutting-edge R&D we are conducting in advanced manufacturing.
“We are looking forward to supporting the region's manufacturers with innovative solutions to their manufacturing challenges and welcome them to come and visit us, to see it in action for themselves.”
The cutting-edge research centre will combine modern office workspace with a flexible high-tech workshop facility and a triple-height atrium will form the social hub of the office space where occupants can interact and exchange ideas.
A ‘social heart’ space will overlook the workshop where innovation-led R&D will be carried out with a focus on digital and additive manufacturing, vehicle electrification, battery assembly and lightweighting technologies.