Thursday, November 6, 2014

News: Hauser hails impact of AMRC

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A report by entrepreneur Hermann Hauser into the Government's strategy for harnessing innovation through partnerships between business and universities, has praised the work of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) 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, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

Next door is the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC), which aims to enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry, and is also part of the HVM Catapult.

In 2010 the UK invested £200min a network of Catapult Centres designed to close the gap between universities and industry, creating infrastructures which would rapidly translate research into productivity. There are currently seven Catapult centres across the country with a further two due to open in 2015. The most advanced of these centres across the UK focus on High-Value Manufacturing.

In 2010 Hermaann Hauser highlighted the AMRC's business model as a leading example of how research centres can make a long-term impact to the economy in his first report for the government. Four years later his second report sets out recommendations to ministers on the future scope, shape and ambition of this Catapult network.

The AMRC is again used as a case study which highlights "the ability to increase the scale, speed and scope of commercialisation, and to anchor jobs and investment in the UK that would be otherwise lost overseas."

Hauser (pictured, right) heard first hand about some of the cutting edge research being carried out in Rotherham when he visited the AMP earlier this year.

The report discusses how Sheffield-based cutting tool specialists Technicut and tool-holding specialist Nikken Kosakusho worked with both the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC to prove that a new tooling system could achieve record-breaking rates of metal removal. Technicut has won new business and grown its workforce as a result of the collaborative research and networking opportunities. The patented system is now in production, and being deployed around the world. Consequently, Nikken is also investing in a new European research and development centre on the R-evolution development at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, next to the AMRC.

Also highlighted is the collaborative work carried out with Rolls-Royce at the AMRC which helped to significantly reduce the machining time of advanced turbine discs for new aerospace engines. This led to major efficiency savings and made it worthwhile to retain the production within the UK.

The £20.5m AMRC Training Centre is also highlighted for the way it is "developing a cadre of technologists and engineers with cross sector design and manufacturing skills focused on the management and delivery of innovation."

The AMRC secures funding from a range of organisations; through winning competitive calls for research from Innovate UK and Research Councils; research projects commissioned by business; and through Tier 1 and Tier 2 sponsors. The report again highlighted that this balance between securing private sector and public sector funding offers a more sustainable business model.

Publishing the report Hermann Hauser said: "I've been genuinely surprised at the degree of progress made and impressed by the quality of the people and facilities in the emerging network. The UK is playing catch up with the best innovation systems in the world in translational infrastructure, so I was very encouraged to see how rapidly we are closing the gap."

Iain Gray, chief executive of Innovate UK (the Government sponsored body that funds the centres), added: "I am very pleased that Hermann Hauser has recognised the positive role Innovate UK has played to date in setting up the Catapults, and how they fit with our full range of innovation support for businesses.

"His recommendations to Government present a very clear vision of the long-term future for Catapults, and he sets out key challenges for sustained progress, such as more effective SME and university engagement, and how we develop a pipeline of future Catapults."

Hauser's recommendations include a call for greater investment in UK research and development, leading to 30 Catapult centres across the UK by 2030.

AMRC website
Nuclear AMRC

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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