A new £80m package to keep the UK at the forefront of advances in aerospace and advanced manufacturing has been announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
The Government is investing £25m, with business, led by Rolls-Royce, providing a further £40m, for a series of collaborative research and technology projects.
Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technology (SAMULET II) will investigate new manufacturing processes aimed at increasing productivity and making the best use of resources.
The Government has already committed to separately investing £15m in new capital equipment for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult – a network of technology and innovation centres – which will assist projects such as these across the advanced manufacturing sector.
The announcement came as Vince Cable visited the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, where Rolls-Royce are building a new factory, to unveil the company’s new advanced blade casting facility. The new factory will create at least 150 highly skilled jobs.
“This type of research will help ensure the UK stays at the forefront of advanced manufacturing,” said Dr Cable. “There is an important need for increased investment in manufacturing technologies, so we can produce aerospace products more efficiently and competitively. We are now acting on that with SAMULET II.”
The Government’s investment in SAMULET II will be delivered through the Technology Strategy Board, with Rolls-Royce working with other companies and universities and able to use the facilities available at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult – including those based at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the Nuclear AMRC located next to the company’s new home in Rotherham.
The new Rolls-Royce advanced blade casting facility will produce high-tech turbine blades using advanced manufacturing processes.
The casting process grows a blade as a single crystal from aerospace super-alloys producing high performance, high value components that can operate under extreme conditions in the hottest part of the aero engine.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Innovation in advanced, high value, manufacturing is fundamental to our future success and is a major driver of economic growth”