Rolls-Royce has announced that it is to invest over £300 million in creating four new manufacturing sites in the UK and is to lead research into reducing emissions from aircraft.
The company said the plans will create or secure 800 UK jobs. A further 500 positions created in Singapore where another new facility will open.
One of the new UK plants will be at the company’s site in Lancashire and will make wide-chord fan blades for military aircraft. Locations of the other three have not been announced but it is thought they will be used to make aircraft turbine blades and components for nuclear power stations.
Government is to invest £45m into the expansion project from a pot of £151.5m made available today for advanced manufacturing.
Rolls is also going to lead two sets of research, both of which also have financial backing from government. The first will concentrate on developing low carbon engine technology and will receive a contribution of another £45m, provided through government’s non-departmental Technology Strategy Board (TSB).
For the second project, Rolls will work alongside the TSB and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), another government faction, and a host of other manufacturers, universities and industry bodies. This project is to go by the name of the ‘Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK with Leading Environmental Technology’ (SAMULET).
The research will focus on ways to reduce raw material use and make manufacturing processes more efficient. Government will invest £28.5m through the TSB and £11.5m through EPSRC into this venture over four years.
Both plans are valued at £90m overall and will utilise investment from other industry sources as well as Rolls-Royce itself
“SAMULET aims to ensure that the UK aero-engine industry remains competitive in the face of new 2020 emissions targets for aircraft and that it is in a position to manufacture engines for the next generation of civil aircraft,” said Iain Gray, chief executive of the TSB.
“We supported this intervention because we felt that it was essential that new technology advances rapidly enough in the industry to ensure that the UK retains a competitive advantage in this field.
Of government’s financial backing, business secretary Peter Mandelson: “This practical package of measures will help equip British manufacturers of all sizes and sectors to take advantage of the advanced technologies and new market opportunities now shaping our low-carbon industrial future.”
Other beneficiaries include the Printable Electronics Centre in Sedgefield which will get £12m and create 1,500 jobs by 2014 and a centre of excellence for silicon design in the South West which will get £500,000.