University of Sheffield key player in transforming country’s fortunes

Published 3rd December 2014 at 4:38pm
The University of Sheffield is to be part of an innovation hub for the discovery of new materials which could be the key to rebalancing the UK economy.In today’s (3 December 2014) Autumn Statement Chancellor George Osborne announced £235m of funding for the new Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Centre, which will be based in Manchester and will see academics from Sheffield collaborating with fellow experts from across the country on pioneering research.The Chancellor said the centre would work closely with businesses to provide products vital to the country’s advanced manufacturing sector.“A few months ago there were no proposals for major new scientific institutions in the North of England”, he said.

“Today we commit to a massive, quarter of a billion investment in a new Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced material science in Manchester, with branches in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.”

The Chancellor also promised a further £61m investment in High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres, designed to close the gap between universities and industry and translating research into productivity. He said the Government was committing to the industry of the North with investment in new high value manufacturing research.

The news is a further boost to the AMRC with Boeing and the Nuclear AMRC, both part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Much of the AMRC’s work with the Sir Henry Royce Institute is expected to focus on developments in powder metallurgy, aimed at improving the quality and capabilities of the technology, so that it can be more widely used in manufacturing.

Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University, Professor Richard Jones, said the Autumn Statement was “recognition” of the hard work already taking place at the University to help drive economic growth.

“This is welcome news and it is fantastic that the University of Sheffield has been seen as a key driver in improving productivity for the UK industry and helping to rebalance the UK economy.

“The centre will bring some of the best academics together and allow us to work even more closely with our neighbours in Manchester and Leeds, but more than that, this is a major boost for northern cities.

“The money will attract industry and bring high quality manufacturing jobs to the region.

“This announcement is also recognition of our vision with the AMRC to translate top class research into actual production and put Sheffield back on the map as the manufacturing capital of Britain.”

Already the AMRC has worked with top-tier aerospace manufacturers to put innovative lightweight composites into production, while the Nuclear AMRC is developing powder metallurgy and high-integrity additive manufacturing technologies for the energy sector.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, Executive Dean of the AMRC, said: “The Chancellor’s announcement is further confirmation of the Sheffield region’s place at the forefront of developing technology so that it can give UK manufacturers a global competitive edge.

“There has been a lot of hype around some technologies involving powdered metals, but there are genuine practical opportunities, particularly if we can improve the quality of powders and processes.

“That is the sort of work we plan to be carrying out, thanks to this announcement.”

Just last month a Government-commissioned report on the Catapult programme focused on the success of the centres.