Monday, November 7, 2016

News: Innovation audit highlights region's advanced manufacturing assets

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A potential advanced manufacturing corridor across the Northern Powerhouse, joining South Yorkshire with Lancashire, has the key components and assets to drive productivity growth in sectors which rely on advanced manufacturing.

Recognising that high value manufacturing can be key to driving innovation, productivity and exports, civic leaders have committed to the idea of "supercharging" the areas of advanced manufacturing in the Sheffield-Rotherham Economic Corridor. Based around the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and surrounding Enterprise Zone, the aim is to develop Europe's largest research-led advanced manufacturing cluster.

As reported by Rothbiz in August, The Sheffield City Region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), in collaboration with Lancashire LEP, has now undertaken a Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) for an area across the Pennines.

The aim of the audit is to inform the translation of research to economic outputs and increased productivity. It will provide Government with part of the evidence base on which to make decisions on research centres such as "catapults" and explore how to further the region's advantages in advanced manufacturing. It will also help to inform important SCR strategies including the Strategic Economic Plan refresh and Smart Specialisation Strategy.

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The audit, Driving Productivity Growth Through Innovation in High Value Manufacturing, was launched at the Innovate UK last week by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, and shows that between Sheffield city region and Lancashire are many of the key components and assets needed to drive productivity growth in sectors which rely on advanced manufacturing and key linked sectors, to strengthen the economy of the region and equip the UK to compete globally.

The audit highlights the strengths of the corridor including being home to several industrial research centres - including the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Nuclear AMRC, Factory 2050, the world's first fully-reconfigurable manufacturing facility, and the University of Central Lancashire's Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) as well as the planned Lancaster University's Health Innovation Campus.

The audit identified that £207m of grant research income comes into the area per year, of which £161.7m is relevant to high value manufacturing sectors. Strong research and development partnerships with companies including Siemens, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems as well as with SMEs within key supply chains in a variety of high value manufacturing sub-sectors.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "Between the geographies of the Sheffield City Region and Lancashire lies a unique opportunity. One which the UK economy desperately needs.

"Within our existing Northern Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Corridor, we have strong high value manufacturing industrial bases, innovative excellence, world-class science and multi-level skills training; ensuring that the region is ready to bring the right skills, people and technology to close the productivity gap not just for the North but for the UK as a whole.

"This science and innovation audit provides a robust picture of innovation, industrial excellence and world-class research and I am confident that the other audits conducted across the UK will also show the same.

"What we need now is a cutting-edge national strategy to help regions like ours to deliver real change which will create economic growth and with it the jobs and opportunities which are so crucial for all in our communities."

University of Sheffield website

Images: Nuclear AMRC


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