Global lightweight manufacturing hub forming in Greater Manchester

Posted on 1 Oct 2018 by Tim Brown

An increasing trend to reduce the overall weight of products in multiple industries such as aerospace, renewables, construction and transportation, is driving tremendous growth in the lightweight structures market.

According to the UK Department for International Trade, it is projected that the global opportunity in lightweight structures, just for transport applications, will reach £138bn by 2021.

In the last few years, the region of Greater Manchester has developed a specialist niche in this area, specifically tapping into opportunities in light alloys, technical textiles, coatings and graphene.

At the centre of this developing lightweight structures business cluster are international commercial successes such as Nanoco Technologies, PTG, Freudenberg, and Luxfer MEL. Each of these companies have reported that their recent successes have been in part due to the opportunities and benefits that come from having a base in Greater Manchester.

There is a high potential for opportunity in the developing lightweight structures sector in Greater Manchester - image courtesy of UK Department for International Trade
There is a high potential for opportunity in the developing lightweight structures sector in Greater Manchester – image courtesy of UK Department for International Trade.

The benefits of Greater Manchester include:

Well-developed supply chain:

  • Home to more than 300 automotive supply chain firms
  • The centre of Europe’s largest aerospace cluster

An established infrastructure:

  • Centrally located in the UK, with intermodal access to UK and continental markets
  • Just 2 hours by train to London and direct flights to 190 global destinations
  • Access to state-of-the-art High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres and £200 million in funding to help businesses turn ideas into commercial ventures

Excellent research:

  • Proximity to internationally recognised research centres including the Aerospace Research Institute, Dalton Research Institute, Henry Royce Institute, Materials and Physics Research Centre, the National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility and the Northwest Composites Centre.
  • The birthplace of Graphene, the world’s first 2D material which is thinner, lighter, stronger and more conductive than any other.
  • Home of The National Graphene Institute, that partners with more than 60 companies to develop and commercialise graphene technology

Find out more about how the Greater Manchester area supports commercialisation in lightweight materials.

A ready workforce and competitive costs

If you are in the business of producing lightweight structures, it isn’t just the Manchester region’s strengths in R&D but also its highly skilled workforce and competitive costs that offer fantastic commercialisation opportunities.

Towns throughout the Greater Manchester area offer access to a large and well-educated workforce across the full range of high-productivity manufacturing. Within Greater Manchester there is a talent pool of 14,000 students studying advanced materials disciplines and over 100,000 people working in high productivity manufacturing.

In addition, compared to other European markets, this opportunity is further enhanced by competitive operating costs for utilities, labour and industrial property.

Government support

The investment opportunity in Greater Manchester is underpinned by a government support structure at national and local levels including the High Value Manufacturing (HMV) Catapult, a programme that helps to bridge the gap between technology concept and commercialisation.

Plus, as well as offering specialist guidance on skills, visas and migration, the UK government can also support with recruitment advice, access to funding and introductions to local academic institutions.

Act now

If your business is based outside of the UK and wants to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to establish itself as a leader in lightweight structures in the Greater Manchester region, get in touch with one of our investment advisors, call +44(0) 207 000 9012 or email: enquiries@invest-trade.uk.