Universities welcome 40m Manufacturing Technology Centre

Universities welcome 40m Manufacturing Technology Centre

PA 280/09

The University of Nottingham, the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University and TWI Ltd, the operating division of The Welding Institute, have welcomed public funding approval by the Government today for the world class Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), based in the Midlands.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has confirmed a combined capital contribution of 40 million from Advantage West Midlands and East Midlands Development Agency (emda) - one of the largest public sector investments in manufacturing for many years.

The MTC is backed by some of the UK’s major global manufacturers and will support UK manufacturing companies, and their supply chains, to bring about major improvements in their manufacturing competitiveness.

A new model of collaborative partnership between industry, universities and research and technology organisations (RTO), the MTC reflects the need for manufacturers to move away from competing simply on cost and to compete more on knowledge.

Founder industrial members of the MTC are Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Aero Engine Controls and Airbus UK. Research partners include the University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and TWI Ltd, the operating division of The Welding Institute.

The centre will provide resources and a high quality environment for the development and demonstration of new technologies on an industrial scale. Construction of the MTC will start in the first quarter of 2010 and the centre will open at Ansty Park near Coventry in early summer 2011.

The 40m public investment will provide a catalyst to drive forward the construction of the centre and the funding to help run it in the medium term. In total, 130 million of public and private sector investments will be made in the centre over the next 10 years.

Business Minister Pat McFadden made the announcement at an event in London at which BIS also gave progress updates and further announcements one year on from the launch of Government’s manufacturing strategy.

“Britain has a great manufacturing future, not just a great manufacturing past. We are the sixth largest manufacturing economy globally. But the face of manufacturing here is changing and we need to embrace and support the numerous opportunities created as a result. That’s why we’re investing in centres like Ansty Park to help business and universities collaborate and commercialise new and innovative products and processes,” Mr McFadden said.

Ian Austin, Regional Minister for the West Midlands, said: “Manufacturing is extremely important to the future prosperity of the Midlands’ and UK economy. Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the Region and will provide a huge boost for the competitiveness and innovation of our manufacturers, large and small.”

Professor Chris Rudd, The University of Nottingham’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, said: “The MTC epitomises the kind of statement that the UK needs to make about its commitment to high value manufacturing. It provides a superb platform for our best researchers to put their innovative ideas to the test in a demanding industrial context. Nottingham’s expertise in fabrication, tooling and fixturing will play a pivotal role in delivering the next generation of manufacturing sites, ensuring the UK remains a global force in this critical industrial sector.”

Professor Nigel Weatherill, Head of the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “The MTC is crucial to the economic development of the Midlands and the UK. Manufacturing technology equates to productivity, one of the key elements of competitiveness. The Centre will capitalise on research flowing from universities and deliver production-ready solutions for industry. The collaboration focuses on industry needs and will allow scientists to try out novel ideas on production scale equipment.”

Professor Phill Dickens, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise at Loughborough University, said: “This is a truly collaborative effort between companies, regional development agencies and universities. This will enable us to build on our longstanding ethos of transferring our knowledge to industry and looks set to have a real impact on the UK economy.”

Dr Bob John, Chief Executive Officer of TWI Ltd, said: “The Manufacturing Technology Centre is an exciting new way for TWI Ltd to work with universities in support of key UK industrial companies. It will combine academic output with our research and development skills to provide new technologies that are production ready for exploitation. Therefore, I am very pleased that my organisation is a research partner in this new initiative, and I look forward to seeing it make a real difference to manufacturing by the development and transfer of innovative and productive technologies.”

Dr Hamid Mughal, Rolls-Royce’s Executive Vice President, Manufacturing Engineering, is a Council Member of The University of Nottingham and sits on the Nottingham University Business School’s Advisory Board. “Today’s announcement marks a key milestone for the UK’s manufacturing sector. High value-added manufacturing will increasingly play an important role in securing the UK’s future competitiveness and prosperity. The MTC has been designed to enable Rolls-Royce, and other industrial partners to develop, evaluate and implement innovative manufacturing technologies to improvements in manufacturing performance,” He said.

“Our leading involvement in the MTC is a critical component of our strategy to develop a global network of advanced manufacturing research centres, and we are looking forward to working alongside our partners in the open, collaborative and innovative environment that the MTC will provide.”

Bryan Jackson, Chairman of East Midlands Development Agency (emda), which takes the lead role for manufacturing on behalf of England’s RDAs, said: “The Manufacturing Technology Centre is an excellent example of Regional Development Agencies using their funds in partnership with business to ensure that UK manufacturing retains a competitive advantage.

“emda and Advantage West Midlands recognise that manufacturing is critically important to the economies of the East and West Midlands. This world-class centre of excellence, operated by some of the Midlands’ leading universities working in collaboration with manufacturing companies, will help to ensure that the UK and the Midlands stays at the forefront of manufacturing technology and innovation over the coming years.”

Mick Laverty, Chief Executive at Advantage West Midlands, said: “Independent economic assessment predicts a 25 return on investment for the Region for every pound invested in the MTC. This reflects our commitment to investing in activities which add the most value to the regional economy.

“Advantage West Midlands and emda’s unique positions as business like and business led organisations with strong relationships across the range of key agencies, such as local authorities, allow us to bring together the private and public sectors to deliver these crucial and major projects.

“It is now more important than ever that we continue to make every pound count and achieve maximum impact through our strategic interventions. The combined investment by the two RDAs will also firmly establish Ansty Park as the Region’s home of world class research and development.

“Global telecommunications supplier Ericsson has already transferred its European research and development department to high quality purpose built offices at Ansty Park, securing 850 high value, technology driven jobs for the West Midlands. The MTC will provide up to 150 more highly skilled jobs on site for local people.

“By helping to secure Ansty’s future, the MTC is in turn helping Advantage West Midlands, emda and our partners to deliver what is one in a number of projects that are critical to the regeneration of the Midlands.”

Peter Flinn, interim Director of the MTC, said: “The MTC provides a real step change for regional manufacturing. By bridging the gap between academic research and commercial production the MTC will meet the needs and requirements of industry in a way which has not been achieved until now.

“Research activity will focus on assembly, fabrication and joining technologies, including: high integrity fabrication, net shape manufacturing, advanced tooling and fixturing, and intelligent automation. This work will be underpinned by research into modelling and simulation.

“Research has already started with 15 to 20 programmes already lined up to occupy space at the MTC.”

David Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Jaguar Land Rover, also welcomed the news. “As one of the Manufacturing Technology Centre’s industry partners, Jaguar Land Rover welcomes this significant investment from the Regional Development Agencies. Today’s announcement is an important step forward in progressing what will be a world class research and development centre, based here in the West Midlands.”

Simon Burr, Aero Engine Controls’ Vice President, Engineering & Manufacturing, said: “We are tremendously excited about the future prospects of the MTC. We have seen first- hand the huge benefits that a manufacturing technology centre can create by bridging the gap between blue sky university research, machine manufacturers and the industrial users. The MTC partnership bringing together the key strengths of the research partners, real industrial problems and world class equipment and facilities will be an enormous asset for industry, delivering transformational change.

“In the field of high value electronics assembly the MTC will become a key differentiator not only for us but for a whole UK industrial sector.”

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