Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP and Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis MP yesterday (Thursday 11 October) officially opened the University of Sheffield’s three new multi-million pound research centres, which aim to boost the region’s reputation as a hub for advanced engineering and industrial digital technologies.
The Minister and Mayor praised the transformative work taking place and how it will allow businesses to gain access to university research expertise and use industrial digital technologies such as AI and robotics.
Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “These three new research centres will boost the reputation of the Northern Powerhouse for being the world-leader in cutting-edge research, innovation and advanced engineering. Each centre will build upon the UK’s scientific research leadership to equip industry in these key priorities of the Government’s Industrial Strategy so that we have a high-skilled, high-tech, high-performance economy which is fit for the future.”
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “The University of Sheffield is renowned for its excellence in engineering and advanced manufacturing. I know the opening of these new engineering centres is not just great news for the University, but for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, the Sheffield City Region, and the wider Northern Powerhouse.
“These cutting-edge facilities will form part of a wider Global Innovation Corridor, linking sites across our region that excel in research, engineering and advanced manufacturing. Firmly rooted in our existing strengths, this corridor will be a global magnet for people, industry and innovators and a huge contributor to our nation’s prosperity.
“I’m proud to work closely with the University of Sheffield and applaud the standard of research, of ambition and of innovation that has made these new engineering centres a reality.”
Working with companies to help develop new technologies, the centres will use the transformational power of research to cut costs and lead times which will revolutionise industrial processes.
The centres – the Royce Translational Centre (RTC), the Laboratory for Verification and Validation (LVV), and the Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR) – are located within the heart of the Sheffield City Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, a key element of the emerging Global Innovation Corridor that stretches across the Sheffield City Region.
Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President and Head of the Faculty of Engineering, said: “At the University of Sheffield we deliver pioneering interdisciplinary research and find solutions to global challenges. The three centres launched today build on this established expertise and firmly place us as a key partner for industry. The capabilities of the centres will enable us to test and operate on an industrial scale, translating theory into application to improve productivity, cost efficiencies and innovation across a broad range of sectors.”
The three world-leading translational research facilities are each housed in custom designed prestigious new buildings, creating 3,000 sq.m of high-technology facilities at an investment of £47m part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the University of Sheffield. Each one builds upon the UK’s scientific research leadership to equip industry in these key priorities of the government’s Industrial Strategy.
The site is already home to the University of Sheffield’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory 2050 – the UK’s first state of the art factory, entirely dedicated to conducting collaborative research into reconfigurable digitally assisted assembly, component manufacturing and machining technologies, as well as Boeing Sheffield, the aerospace giant’s new fabrication facility.
As part of his visit, the Minister was given a tour of the new centres by Professor Mike Hounslow, who highlighted some of the successful partnerships between the Centres and local businesses.
ICAIR have worked with Sheffield’s Environmental Monitoring Solutions (EMS) to manage the increased risk of urban flooding caused by climate change. The artificial intelligence based technology called CENTAUR™ means that sewer flow control systems can be managed at a local level, providing better protection using the same infrastructure.
Metron Advanced Equipment Limited, based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, is working with the RTC to produce parts for aerospace and automotive applications, such as jet engine components and turbochargers, from Titanium Aluminides (TiAl) using Additive Manufacturing (or 3D printing). Using advanced alloys with new technologies will enable the production of more complex parts with greater efficiency, providing the potential to exploit new commercial opportunities.
LVV’s partnership with Sheffield-based Magnomatics, through the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s Dynamics Research Group (DRG), focuses on testing the vibration performance of their magnetic gear components. They will now be able to use the environmental chambers at the LVV to test under extreme conditions such as temperatures of plus and minus 50 degrees, one of an extremely limited number of facilities worldwide where they would be able to carry out testing of this type.
The work taking place at the three new centres builds on the experience and expertise of the nearby University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which works with partners such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Airbus as well as local SMEs to help improve productivity, de-risk investment decisions, and accelerate the early adoption of industrial digital technologies to improve performance and quality.
The new advanced engineering centres are part-funded by ERDF, which is administered via the Ministry for Houses, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and UKRI from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).