New advanced materials centre sets out blueprint for the future

Posted on 7 Oct 2016 by Jonny Williamson

A new £30 million ground-breaking facility, which will revolutionise the way industry brings new advanced materials to market, is being launched today (October 7).

The Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC) is a high-technology centre which aims to fast-track advanced materials and processes into commercial products rapidly and economically – and at the same time scientists of the future will be developed to create a ‘talent pipeline.’

Dr Cathryn Hickey, chief executive, Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC).
Dr Cathryn Hickey, chief executive, Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC).

With the intention of putting Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire at the heart of the global advanced materials economy, AMRICC’s research laboratory, pilot plant and educational facility will be used to channel the expertise and heritage in steel and ceramics within the region for a new generation.

The launch event, which takes place at the Moat House Hotel in Festival Park, will follow the official opening of the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, with which AMRICC will be closely associated.

AMRICC chief executive, Dr Cathryn Hickey explained: “AMRICC offers the UK – and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire in particular – a unique opportunity to become the world leader in the commercialisation of materials and materials process development.

“Traditionally, once a new material or process is discovered, bringing it to commercial use in the marketplace has taken up to 20 years or more. This is quite an unbelievable time lag which can result in a host of missed opportunities for all involved.

“In some cases the flow of innovation to fully commercialised products never happens and it’s this ‘valley of death’ which AMRICC will address.

The newly appointed chief executive said that AMRICC’s “unique collaboration between academia and industry partners” will to help companies drive innovation to develop, manufacture and deploy advanced materials much faster and at a fraction of the cost.

In this way, it is hoped that this will enable new business models and approaches to collaboration to be achieved, and these will extend beyond the current open innovation concept.”

AMRICC will also contain the world’s first field-enhanced sintering pilot plant, which reportedly represents a unique way of reaching extremely high temperatures very rapidly, something which will help AMRICC develop, with its partners, a number of beneficial applications to bring to market.

R&D Innovation Research Institute for Manufacturing
The AMRICC isn’t just about developing materials and technologies, developing people is also a core objective.

Hickey commented: “These include thermal barrier coatings for the aerospace and automotive sectors as well as sensor technologies for the electronics industry.

“But it’s not just about developing materials and technologies – at AMRICC we’re also proud to be developing people.

“Working with some of the world’s leading universities, AMRICC will be delivering Master’s Degrees and PhDs to develop the ‘commercial technocrats’ of the future – materials scientists with both business acumen and a wide range of commercial and industrial experience.”

AMRICC is being set up with the support of the international materials technology company, Lucideon, as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Stoke–on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

It will be initially based alongside Lucideon’s headquarters in Penkhull and, in the future, is set to establish within the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone – to be developed along the A500 corridor in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.