Fit For Nuclear has unveiled a £1.5m support boost today to help English manufacturers enter or expand their presence in the growing nuclear sector.
Fit For Nuclear (F4N), which was developed by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) and delivered in partnership with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), is offering grants of around £10,000 to companies that want to meet industry standards and compete for work in civil nuclear.
It’s estimated that more than 5,000 SMEs are needed to ensure the UK has the necessary capacity to meet its £60bn civil new build programme and the £multi-billion decommissioning contracts already underway.
Chief executive of the Nuclear AMRC, Mike Tynan, commented: “Smaller manufacturers have a vital role to play in civil nuclear, if they can meet the standards demanded by the industry’s top tier.
“To win work, UK companies need to make sure they have the ability to meet safety, quality and cost standards, and can demonstrate that their specialist capabilities can deliver value to clients.”
He continued: “We created Fit For Nuclear to help manufacturers close any gaps in performance, and this new funding will provide vital support for anyone taking the next steps and getting ready to compete for nuclear opportunities.”
The funding call aims to allow management teams to drive business improvements in areas, such as improved manufacturing processes, factory layout, bid writing, training plans and strategy.
Manufacturers can apply for F4N funding to support R&D projects to optimise production or develop new processes/products, and they can also access the Nuclear AMRC’s world-leading workshop capabilities in welding, metrology and design support.
All projects must be completed by March 31 2016, with firms urged to apply as soon as possible to secure a share of the funding.
Head of MAS, Steven Barr, explained: “Almost 200 businesses have already embarked on Fit For Nuclear and more than 75% of these have recorded immediate tangible bottom-line benefits.
“This is just the start and the current funding call will look to accelerate the number of companies getting involved. Nuclear is seen as a difficult sector to break into. Yes requirements are different, but it’s not as problematic as some people make out.”
Barr added: “F4N can take you through the entire journey, from the online capability check and on-site assessment, through to the generation of an action plan and a 50% grant towards improvement or R&D projects.
“We’ve successfully worked with manufacturers involved in aerospace, automotive, electronics, marine and general fabrication, taking their core expertise and making them applicable to nuclear.”
The UK is leading the way in researching the challenges and opportunities posed by decommissioning, currently working on 17 sites dating back as far as the 1940.
Going forward, the industry has outlined plans to construct around 16 GW of new nuclear power stations in the UK by 2030, equating to a potential investment of £60bn.
Backed by top tier partners including Areva and EDF Energy, F4N’s mission is to provide manufacturers with a clearer understanding of supplier expectations, performance benchmarks, clarity on routes to market and access to the unique manufacturing R&D capabilities of the Nuclear AMRC in Sheffield.
Participants can also take advantage of the centre’s Nuclear Connections initiative, which helps link manufacturers to specific supply opportunities from the industry’s top tiers.
Barr continued: “Any English manufacturer employing 10 or more people and boasting over £1.6m sales can apply to the new funding call.
“All they need to do is get in touch and one of our assessors will guide them on the application and a quick decision will be made to ensure companies have the best possible chance of taking advantage of the £60bn+ opportunity.”