One of the world’s leading manufacturing research institutions has joined forces with Derby City Council and its Local Enterprise Partnership (D2N2) to support their bold strategy for improving the region’s economic growth, skills and jobs.
The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) – which recently helped secure more than £100 million in inward investment to the Sheffield City Region from Boeing, Rolls-Royce and McLaren – has now signed an agreement to establish a major innovation facility at Infinity Park.
Infinity Park is one of the sites in the Nottingham and Derby Enterprise Zone and the strategic development of the Nottingham and Derby Enterprise Zone as a whole is overseen by the D2N2 LEP. D2N2 is allocating £12.9million to Infinity Park from its Local Growth Fund allocation, over six years, to help improve infrastructure on the site.
“Having recently welcomed Airbus to the i-Hub, and with Rolls-Royce and a multitude of high-tech companies in the area, this move is a no-brainer for AMRC – it’s brilliant news! I have no doubt that this will act as a catalyst for attracting even more high-tech engineering and manufacturing companies to Infinity Park, as Derby is again recognised as a leader in this area,” said Councillor Martin Rawson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and the Economy.
The University of Sheffield AMRC was established in 2004 on the site of the old Orgreave coking plant and is now home to more than 600 highly skilled engineers working in partnership with some of the world’s most respected manufacturing brands. These include Siemens, Bentley, Airbus, 3M, Laing O’Rourke, Polypipe, BAE Systems, Westinghouse, Sellafield and EDF.
The AMRC prides itself on being at the forefront of developing cutting edge technologies and materials for some of the most demanding industries on the planet, from energy, sustainable power generation and infrastructure, through to aerospace, construction, and medical.
“We use our research and innovation assets to tackle the grand challenges facing UK manufacturing – productivity, quality and skills – and turn them into solutions that provide our partners with a step-change in their performance and capability,” says Andrew Storer, CEO for the AMRC with responsibility for energy, whose team is upskilling more than 640 UK companies, many of them SMEs, to get fit for work in the potentially lucrative civil nuclear supply chain.
“The technologies we are developing, from novel woven composites to the creation of digital twins – are applicable to almost any manufacturing sector. Our talent is taking those techniques and processes and de-risking their application and adoption in other industries, in line with the government’s Made Smarter Review and its Industrial Strategy. It is all about building a world-class manufacturing base here in the UK,” he added.
The new 50,000sq ft. Derby facility would be an extension of the i-Hub and allow more new technologies to be delivered regionally, bringing with it the national High Value Manufacturing ‘Catapult’ Centre status. Catapult Centres are a network of UK research centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas, and drive economic growth. They are not-for-profit, independent centres which connect businesses with the UK’s research and academic communities, spanning the gap from academia to industry.
Initially the AMRC will be based in the i-Hub building providing them a head-start, while the collaboration develops their plans for the new building and the activities within it.
Mr Storer added: “Our work at the AMRC has made the Sheffield City Region a magnet for smart inward investors. With the support of Derby City Council and D2N2 our plan is to create that same impact here at Infinity Park in Derby. We work with manufacturing companies – large and small – to de-risk investments in new technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, digital twins, robotics, cobots and automation, smart sensors, control systems and additive layer manufacturing. We help them find the solution that will have most impact on their performance.”
“The potential of cross- sector activities in this new facility in Derby is an incredible opportunity for us to expand our work into new areas of research. For me this is doubly exciting as I started work as an apprentice very close to here, so hopefully we can inspire the next generation of talented engineers – boys and girls – to carry the torch for advanced manufacturing in Derby and the Midlands Engine.”