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Photo: An artist impression showing the new University of Sheffield AMRC North West facility.

One of the world’s most prestigious research and development groups has been given the green light to build a dedicated facility in the North West of England which will boost Lancashire’s reputation as one of the UK’s most innovative regions for advanced manufacturing and act as a powerful magnet for inward investors.

Planners at South Ribble Borough Council and Ribble Valley Borough Council granted permission to the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to build and equip a £20m state-of-the-art facility in a landmark location at the heart of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone, one of four zones that make up the wider Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster.

James Hughes, Research Director at the University of Sheffield AMRC North West, said: “We are delighted that work can now begin on an applied research facility that will equal the best in the world, consolidating the reputation of Lancashire and the wider Northern Powerhouse as the go-to-place for innovation expertise and skills in advanced manufacturing.”

The new 4,500 m2 facility, which will have a focus on vehicle electrification, battery assembly and lightweighting technologies, is being built with capital funding provided through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP)’s Growth Deal. In addition, a £2.5 million revenue grant from the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) matched with £1.6m from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult), will secure the creation of a high-performing technical R&D team that will enhance the manufacturing base of Lancashire, working with manufacturing companies and their supply chains.

Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “The University of Sheffield has a long-standing reputation of developing specialist regional hubs providing valuable engineering expertise and access to advanced capabilities tailored to the needs of local industry sectors. The new facility in the North West will be the catalyst for manufacturing growth, supporting the supply chains in the region to drive up productivity and attract inward investment to create a sustainable future for advanced manufacturing in the region.”

Melissa Conlon, Commercial Director for University of Sheffield AMRC North West, added: “Our mission is to ensure that Lancashire and the North becomes the engine room of the fourth industrial revolution, harnessing the latest digital technologies, from robotics and automation to artificial intelligence and augmented reality, to support the transition to a low carbon economy, accelerate the move to transport electrification, drive up productivity, improve the competitiveness of indigenous industries and make the region a magnet for global manufacturing brands to invest.”

Chairman of the LEP, Steve Fogg, said: “We have worked hard to attract the AMRC to the Samlesbury Aerospace EZ and backed it with £20m of Lancashire Growth Deal Funding.

“The AMRC will play a key role in helping the county’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors to maintain their leading position in the UK, by driving growth, productivity and innovation and supporting Lancashire firms to compete nationally and internationally.

“The AMRC is also another hugely important investment in the Samlesbury Aerospace EZ. We expect considerable synergies between the AMRC and the growing number of top-class, high-tech facilities that are already on the site and it will also complement UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre, which the LEP also helped fund. 

“With world-class facilities like the AMRC and high-quality infrastructure and support, Lancashire’s EZs combine to make an economic and investor offer of Northern Powerhouse significance, which will drive job creation and economic growth in the county for years to come.”

The LEP and University of Sheffield are part of a consortium which identified opportunities for investment and enhanced research innovation and infrastructure along an Advanced Manufacturing Corridor taking in the two regions and the AMRC North West is the product of this strategy.

Stephen Young, executive director of growth, environment, transport and community services at Lancashire County Council, said: “We welcome the AMRC as our latest tenant at the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone.

"Lancashire's advanced manufacturing sector is at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation, and the AMRC will support Lancashire’s existing businesses and act as a catalyst to attract new business into the county and the Enterprise Zone.”

Currently operating from interim facilities provided by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the centre of Preston, the rapidly growing University of Sheffield AMRC North West team is already working with more than 65 small and medium sized manufacturing firms from across the region, as part of its mandate through the ESIF funding to enhance the regional economic base and its supply chains.

“The University of Central Lancashire has been a great support,” says Melissa. “We are working on a number of collaborative R&D projects with a number of key stakeholders to drive forward advanced manufacturing across Lancashire.”

The new University of Sheffield AMRC building in the North West will include, among others, machine tools, additive and hybrid manufacturing, automated assembly, robotics, and autonomous manufacturing processes and systems.

Notes to editors

1.            The University of Sheffield AMRC (AMRC) Group has built its reputation as one of the world’s pre-eminent industrial research organisations specialising in machining technology. It provides access to world-class expertise in composites, integrated manufacturing design and advanced casting and the Centre also offers a range of training opportunities, including supporting more than 300 apprenticeships a year and various engineering degrees.  In terms of employment, the AMRC has grown from a start-up workforce of 8 Full time Equivalent (FTE) staff to a current workforce of in excess of 700, and from an initial 1,200 sqm facility to a campus of ten signature buildings spanning more than 50,000 sqm of space.

2.            The University of Sheffield AMRC in Sheffield City Region is a catalyst for growth, and the vision for the AMRC in the North West will make an important contribution adding to the mix of Lancashire’s economic assets; creating a hub location for manufacturing innovation and change, and over time ensuring Lancashire not only keeps pace but remains at the forefront of what is needed for a modern manufacturing economy.  Lancashire will develop an asset that can be used to promote the area, not only working with existing manufacturing firms within Lancashire and the wider North West, but also one capable of attracting a pipeline of future inward investments into the county. 

3.            In South Yorkshire, the University of Sheffield AMRC has proved an irresistible magnet for Rolls-Royce ( a £100m investment in its crystal blade facility); McLaren on-shoring supercar body manufacture from Austria to Rotherham in a purpose built facility that is set to expand with the more than 200 high skilled jobs; and Boeing building their first and only production facility in Europe on the site of the disused Sheffield Airport next door to the University of Sheffield AMRC’s flagship Factory 2050.

4.            The mission of the University of Sheffield AMRC North West is to place Lancashire amongst the most innovative regions in the UK, with applied research facilities comparable with the best in the world, ensuring Lancashire is an attractive destination for inward investment and the creation of new businesses, in addition to providing world-class support for existing manufacturers. Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone (EZ) is already home to several important aerospace facilities – BAE’s £16m Academy for Skills and Knowledge, the £15m Wincanton Defence and Logistics Centre, and work is now underway on BAE’s £12m asset management facility.

5.            The new facility will draw upon the University of Sheffield AMRC’s experience of establishing the Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Sheffield City Region where it is the anchor tenant and has transformed a site of industrial dereliction and decline into a high-value cluster of aerospace and automotive companies such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce and McLaren in a little more than a decade.

About Lancashire’s Growth Deal Programme

In the last three years the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has successfully secured £320m of Growth Deal investment from the Government's Local Growth Fund. This funding, one of the largest Growth Deal settlements to be allocated to a LEP, is designed to help improve and upgrade existing commercial infrastructure, kickstart new economic initiatives, and unlock additional private investment to drive further growth across the county. Over 40 projects have directly benefitted from the LEP’s Growth Deal Programme.


These include:

•             New and improved transport connections including the Blackburn-Bolton Rail Corridor; the Broughton Bypass; the Centenary Way Viaduct; and the Hyndburn-Burnley-Pendle Growth Corridor;

•             World-class higher education, research and vocational skills provision and facilities including UCLan’s flagship Engineering and Innovation Centre; the national Energy HQ in Blackpool; Lancaster’s Health Innovation Campus; and Myerscough College’s Food & Farming Innovation Centre;

•             A wide-ranging package of regeneration programmes specifically for Blackpool including a new international conference centre at the Winter Gardens complex; the development of Blackpool town centre ‘Green Corridors’; traffic management, bridge and road improvements and an extension of Blackpool’s tram network.

The Growth Deal programme will help to generate up to 11,000 new jobs, create 3,900 new homes and attract £1.2 billion of additional public and private investment for Lancashire. Lancashire’s Growth Deal programme is also fully aligned to other major economic initiatives such as the £450m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, the £20m Growing Places Investment Fund, and the Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Enterprise Zone Cluster.  For more information visit www.lancashirelep.co.uk

About the AMRC

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other high-value manufacturing sectors. The AMRC has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide. Combining state of the art technologies with the AMRC’s expertise in design and prototyping, machining, casting, welding, additive manufacturing, composites, robotics and automation, digital manufacturing and structural testing, has created a manufacturing resource far beyond anything previously available in the UK. The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres, backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.



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