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he Deputy Prime Minister today announced the formation of the government's first elite technology innovation centre. Focusing in the area of high value manufacturing, it will provide access for business to the best technical expertise, infrastructure, skills and equipment that would otherwise be outside the reach of individual companies.
A consortium made up of The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), The Nuclear AMRC, The National Composites Centre and Warwick Manufacturing Group, will receive substantial investment to maximise the economic growth potential of new technology, building on the UK's strength in basic and applied research, in areas where substantial global markets are forecast.
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says: "This first elite technology and innovation centre in high value manufacturing will support our objective to rebalance the economy by underpinning current UK manufacturing strengths through the development and deployment of novel technologies into sectors such as aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals, whilst at the same time driving the UK into leading positions in new high growth markets by creating a platform for innovative SMEs to work with larger companies in developing technologies such as plastic electronics, fibre reinforced polymer composites and biotechnology."
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, says: "Each of these partners brings with it a strong network of linkages with universities specialising in developing leading edge technologies in their areas of focus, and industrial companies seeking to co-develop and then exploit these in the market place."
The planned investment of £200m plus into a network of technology and innovation centres was announced by the Prime Minister in October 2010 and, as a driver of key technologies which continues to achieve tough goals and expand the horizons of innovation, was welcomed by CPI. Based on propositions by Hermann Hauser and James Dyson, the technology innovation centre model has been championed by CPI since its inception in 2004.
As the government's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board was given responsibility for establishing and overseeing the network of centres and has ‘fast-tracked' the centre for high value manufacturing. Over 140 organisations registered their interest and from these a small number of highly credible parties were asked to submit proposals. These were assessed by an independent expert panel and a preferred bidder selected.
CPI's proven track record of work in the innovation space between the discovery of an idea and the delivery of a product or service to the commercial market clearly fits this criteria. In technology readiness levels (TRL) CPI works from level 4 to level 7. Universities typically work in level 1 to 3 and commercial businesses at level 8 and 9 - CPI and the other consortium members help bridge this gap to enable British companies to commercialise the results of world-class research in the UK and access major new high technology markets.
CPI Chief Executive, Nigel Perry, says: "This is fantastic news for CPI and great recognition for the CPI team and the excellent work we have done since we began in 2004. We are delighted to be part of the High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre and the Government's initiative to grow manufacturing in the UK, and are looking forward to working with our partners in the new Centre. This announcement heralds sustained investment into manufacturing and CPI's proven ability to help companies create their next generation of products and processes will grow as a result. This is great news for the UK, for the North-East and for the Process Industry."
About the Consortium members
The Centre for Process Innovation
CPI supports the Process Industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, helping companies develop their next generation of products and services. It is based in the North East over two sites at Wilton, Redcar and Sedgefield, County Durham and has £55m of assets, over 130 highly qualified staff and houses the national centres for Industrial Biotechnology and Printable Electronics.
Technology Focus is Advanced and Sustainable Processing, Industrial Biotechnology, Printable Electronics and Materials, High Temperature Processing and Waste To Energy (Anaerobic Digestion)
The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre
Situated in Rotherham near Sheffield and managed by the University of Sheffield, its main facility, the Factory of the Future, opened in 2008 providing a four-fold expansion (5000 m² in total) of the research capacity. The AMRC employs over 130 highly qualified staff.
Technology focus is on advanced machining, machine characterisation, programming and measurement technologies
The Advanced Forming Research Centre
Built near Glasgow airport, the AFRC is owned by the University of Strathclyde and has received over £17 million investment from Scottish Enterprise. The AFRC is a 2,500 m² facility that currently supports 30 research staff that will grow to over 50 in the next few years.
Technology focus is forming and forging of metals with associated materials characterisation and process modelling
The Manufacturing Technology Centre
The MTC is being built at Ansty near Coventry and will be operated by TWI and the Universities of Nottingham, Birmingham and Loughborough and will open in May 2011. This is the physically largest of the Centres with over 12000 m² of floor space reflecting the intention to straddle a broader range of manufacturing technologies.
Technology focus is on high integrity joining, automation, advanced fixturing, near net shape manufacture, process modelling and operational performance
The Nuclear AMRC
THE Nuclear AMRC is being built next to the AMRC in Rotherham and is managed by the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester. Over £33 million has been invested by the Government to develop this 8000 m² facility, due to open in November 2011. The primary aim is to help develop a globally competitive and internationally recognised UK Civil Nuclear supply chain.
Technology focus is on the manufacture of clean metal nuclear components and assemblies, civil nuclear quality and accreditation standards and workforce training and development
The National Composites Centre
Being built near Bristol and managed by the University of Bristol, the National Composites Centre has been allocated £25 million of funds by the Government South West regional agency to create this 8500 m² facility, which is due to open in June 2011.
Technology focus is on the design, and high rate, low cost manufacture of advanced composite components to meet the need of this rapidly growing technology sector.
The Warwick Manufacturing Group
WMG is the internationally leading manufacturing department of University of Warwick. WMG brings an extensive network of university and company contacts and experience working with SMEs. WMG is multi-disciplinary, leveraging and integrating technologies, enabling exploitation in a range of manufacturing sectors.
Technology focus includes digital technologies, electrical systems, experiential engineering, manufacturing processes, materials, modelling and simulation, sustainability including low carbon mobility technologies, systems integration and visualisation.
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