The first of six Technology Innovation Centres, part of a Government investment of over £200m over the next four years, was announced on Thursday at the AMRC in Rotherham.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable announced details of the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) for High Value Manufacturing yesterday afternoon, during a visit to Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.
Over a decade, the TICs are expected to generate about £2bn of additional manufacturing R&D and create 3,000 new engineering jobs across the seven institutions that make up the TIC consortium.
The consortium is formed by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the Nuclear AMRC, the Advanced Forming Research Centre in Glasgow, the Centre for Process Innovation in Teesside, the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry, the National Composites Centre in Bristol and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. These are already recognised as centres of excellence in a wide range of manufacturing processes, from machining to intelligent automation.
The project will allow the seven centres to build on their established success and expertise, and to create a national network capable of addressing all manufacturing issues.
The resources will be invested in new facilities, to expand current operations in response to industry needs and create research programmes in new technology areas.
Talking to The Manufacturer in an exclusive interview, Mr Clegg said: “The Centre will translate great research and innovation, particularly in our universities, into commercially viable products, to make sure that as a country we remain on the cutting edge of new advanced manufacturing. My view is that with the consistent support of Government, which we are determined to give to these sectors, this really could be one of the most promising innovations in long term support for advanced British manufacturing in many many years.”
The TIC will aim to support those sectors forecast to grow significantly over the next 10 years: high-performance batteries for electric vehicles, off-shore wind turbines, a new generation of fuel-efficient passenger aircraft and nuclear power plants.
Mr Clegg commented: “A lot of the future work for the nuclear sector will be determined by demand, both here in the UK and elsewhere. It’s very difficult to predict demand, not least of course with the developments of the situation in Japan. We have said as a Government that we accept that nuclear power generation is part of the energy mix of the future, as long as it is safe and sustainable and the industry does not ask the taxpayers for any subsidy. I think that within those circumstances this is something where we could see some significant growth and innovation taking place in places like this centre.”
Other Technology Innovation Centres focusing on different areas of technology will be announced in the coming weeks: they are intended to bridge the gap between innovation and commercial success. The first phase of the programme includes investment in existing centres, but later phases will focus on establishing new ones.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The Technology Innovation Centres will hel to equip UK industry with the ability to capitalise on the future global market opportunities by drawing on leading edge research and will form a key part of the Government’s work to rebalance the UK economy and create new high-value private sector jobs.”