High Value Manufacturing Catapult successes

This month, Simon Edmonds reports on an economy-boosting addition to Welsh advanced technologies, and important progress in treating Parkinson’s disease.

The AMRC Cymru opens for business in North Wales

It is very welcome news to see the new £20m Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Cymru open for business in Broughton – the first High Value Manufacturing Catapult location opened in Wales.

The state-of-the-art centre will enable businesses to access advanced technologies, helping them to drive improvements in productivity, performance and quality.

Manufacturing Catapult - The new AMRC centre in Broughton, North Wales.

The new AMRC centre in Broughton, North Wales.


Situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, it will focus on advanced manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. The region has a strong manufacturing base and AMRC Cymru will build on this, driving world-class research and expertise across the supply chain.

Backed by £20m from the Welsh Government, and managed by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the centre will spark economic growth by developing innovation, commercialisation and the development of a new generation of skills.

It’s predicted the new centre could increase GVA to the Welsh economy by as much as £4bn over the next 20 years.

The centre will operate a 2,000 sqm open-access research area. Airbus will be the first major tenant and will have a platform to develop its next-generation wing technologies aligned to its Wing of Tomorrow programme, which is part of a global Airbus investment in research and innovation.


MTC helps project to treat Parkinson’s disease

A cure for Parkinson’s disease may be a step closer thanks to a collaboration between a PhD research student from Loughborough University and engineers at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The MTC’s senior business development manager Nigel Knapp with PhD student Laurissa Havins.

The MTC’s senior business development manager Nigel Knapp with PhD student Laurissa Havins.


Laurissa Havins, aged 23, from Rowley Regis is a PhD student in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine in the School of Science at Loughborough University. Her research is specifically aimed at the development of new materials for the manufacture of cells to treat Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

She is working on a novel process for volume production and isolation of specific neurons from stem cells. To be successful, the research requires a device housing multiple materials for chemical modification, made out of a material resistant to the corrosive chemicals used in the process.

So Laurissa turned to experts at the MTC’s Manufacturing Support Services team who helped design and manufacture a system for her to use, using 3D printing in a high-stress polymer capable of withstanding the strong chemicals used in the process.

Laurissa is researching new ways to create, maintain and isolate functional neurons for clinical use that can replicate neurons affected by such diseases as Parkinson’s.

By harvesting stem cells from patients, researchers can replicate them in the laboratory and manipulate cells which can be differentiated into the type of neurons lost during the onset of the disease.

Using novel, chemically modified materials to mimic what is observed in a developing brain, Laurissa is hoping to advance the ability to produce these cells in high yields and high purity for clinical application. This is important for cost-efficient and reproducible future treatments.


UK Research and Innovation funding opportunities for businesses

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £12m for practical demonstrator projects in smart and sustainable plastic packaging. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

This competition aims to invest in up to three practical demonstrators. In addition, there is a feasibility studies competition, to help applicants develop proposals for later rounds under this programme.

The deadline for application is Wednesday, 19 February 2020 at 12:00pm. Click here for more information


UK-Israel open collaborative R&D competition 2019

Up to £1.5m is available to develop innovative technologies targeting global markets in partnership with Israeli companies.

The UK and Israel are announcing a joint funding competition under the EUREKA framework. This will support collaborative, business-led research and development (R&D) projects which should result in a new product, industrial process or service.

Projects must be innovative, involve a technological risk and also target large global markets.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 19 February 2020 at 12:00pm. Click here for more information


Transforming foundation industries: fast-start projects

Up to £5m is available for innovation projects for the foundation industries. These will be cross-sector, collaborative, fast-start, short-duration, industrial research and development projects.

The aim of this competition is to bring businesses from different foundation industries together to work on common resource and energy-efficiency opportunities. The project can focus on any part of the manufacturing process, including: feedstock inputs, production and material product development.

The consortium must include at least two businesses representing at least two sectors in the foundation industries (cement, glass, ceramics, paper, metals and bulk chemicals).

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 5 February 2020 at 12:00pm. Click here for more information

Innovate UK

Simon Edmonds, director - manufacturing, materials & future of mobility, Innovate UK.

For more information on any of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities, please contact the customer support service:

Feedback! All feedback gratefully received. I can be found on Twitter: @SJSEdmonds