Monday, June 23, 2014

News: AMP at the heart of "High-Value Manufacturing Valley"

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The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, is gearing up to host the Global Manufacturing Festival this week, as the the university's Vice-Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett outlines ambitions for a High-Value Manufacturing Valley along the M1 corridor.


Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia.

Speaking at the 378th Cutlers' Feast, held last month in Sheffield, Sir Keith, described the potential for a further step change in the partnership between the University, industry and the region in the interests of the economy and opportunity.

He said: "I believe we have the potential for a great deal more, something which could transform the AMRC site at Waverley into the hub of advanced manufacture in the UK: a High Value Manufacturing Valley along the M1 corridor and renewing our city region and nation through the possibilities of investment and major new production."

Sir Keith described his belief that the UK faces three choices in relation to manufacturing:

- Buying from the rest of the world and accepting the subcontract work they pass down to us
- Developing new products and processes in SMEs – difficult to move quickly for reasons of investment
- Or accepting the challenge of large infrastructure projects – working together to make in the UK, develop our intellectual property in the UK and to sell what we make to the rest of the world.

A member of the Prime Minister's Council of Science and Technology who also advises the Treasury on major infrastructure projects, Sir Keith outlined particular opportunities around the manufacturing for civil nuclear energy and high speed trains.

He added: "Why shouldn't small modular reactors which can play a key role in our energy infrastructure – and indeed in keeping the lights on – be made here in Sheffield? New build nuclear energy will be an investment of approximately £60 billion. Should the ability to manufacture the civil nuclear energy which will be needed to power a nation which began in this country be lost to France or to China?

Rolls-Royce has plans for a manufacturing facility for nuclear components at the AMP.

Burnett continued: "And why should our region not only have a station for High Speed 2 but actually produce the trains which will run on that track? Because we can. The HS2 market is worth £7 billion. What would that mean to our region and to our nation? We have the skills to do this kind of work better and more efficiently."

Beth West, commercial director at HS2 Ltd, will be at the festival this week to discuss how the region's manufacturers can get involved.

The speech also described the University's willingness to think in new ways about partnerships with industry to ensure the development of the very highest quality apprenticeship routes into Higher Education which would support this activity.

Last year saw the £20.5m AMRC Training centre open on the Waverley site, where the focus is on 250 students aged from 16 upwards, taken on paid apprenticeships with opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses.

AMRC website

Images: Harworth Estates

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