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Luke Hall, Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government, made the comments to mark the first steps in building the 4,500m2 applied research centre at the heart of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone in Preston, Lancashire.

“We are delighted to be backing the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West with a £20 million Local Growth Fund investment,” said MP Luke Hall.

“This project will place Lancashire as a leader in innovation-driven, sustainable economic growth and will act as a catalyst for further inward investment.

 "It will also support the creation of highly skilled jobs, bringing opportunities and prosperity to the local community.”

The flagship facility is being built using a £20m grant from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal and extends the University of Sheffield AMRC’s footprint across the north. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a turf cutting will be held virtually bringing together key figures involved in the major development.

Steve Foxley, CEO, University of Sheffield AMRC, said that while the ceremony will take place in the virtual world the new facility will have real-world impacts for the region. “We’ve taken another huge stride in realising our vision to make things better, for Lancashire and for the North,” he said. “This state-of-the-art facility will keep the Lancashire region at the forefront of advanced manufacturing and technologies and support its businesses to innovate and drive up productivity, leading industry towards a green recovery and a smart, sustainable and resilient future.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “The University of Sheffield AMRC has a long history of driving manufacturing and productivity growth in the Sheffield City Region and we're really proud to be sharing our world-leading expertise and experience in Lancashire.

“AMRC North West is already having a significant impact in supporting businesses to innovate and strengthened by this new facility, will be a beacon for innovation and advanced manufacturing across the north. It is collaborations like this that will be crucial to levelling up the regions and supporting the country's post-Covid recovery.”

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Innovation at the University of Sheffield, added: “The University of Sheffield AMRC has a long-standing reputation for developing specialist regional hubs that provide engineering expertise and access to advanced capabilities tailored to the needs of local industry sectors. We are delighted to be expanding our tried and tested model for innovation to support local industry and the manufacturing sector in the North West.”

Even before the first spade hit the dirt for the new facility, the creation of a high-performing technical R&D team at AMRC North West is already having impact, having supported more than 100 small and medium sized firms across the region in the first year, and the recent announcement of a £10m funding win to put Lancashire and North West manufacturing at the cutting edge of 5G technology with the 5G-Factory of the Future programme. Led by AMRC North West, the programme will develop a 5G industrial testbed to unlock the potential of industrial digitalisation and improve the performance of manufacturers across the North of England.

James Hughes, Research Director for AMRC North West, said: “It is hugely exciting for everyone involved in the AMRC North West project to see our new facility becoming a reality. This new state-of-the-art building will really enable us to showcase the cutting-edge R&D we are conducting in advanced manufacturing. We are looking forward to supporting the region's manufacturers with innovative solutions to their manufacturing challenges and welcome them to come and visit us, to see it in action for themselves.”

Melissa Conlon, Commercial Director for AMRC North West, said: “Our new facility will help accelerate 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 North West. We have already worked with more than 100 Lancashire SMEs to accelerate their adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies to improve performance and quality and ensure that they are able to compete in the global economy."

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: ''It is fantastic that work has now started on the AMRC North West facility on the Samlesbury site.  The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has invested £20m from our Growth Deal programme as we are confident in the AMRC's ability to drive growth and increase productivity to ensure Lancashire remains at the forefront of innovative and cutting-edge technologies. Not only is the LEP confident that the AMRC can deliver a step-change to how our businesses operate, the fact that they have decided to locate in Lancashire is testament to Lancashire's strong manufacturing and innovative heritage.”

Stephen Young, Executive Director of Growth, Environment, Transport and Community Services at Lancashire County Council, said:  “This is a prestigious investment for our Enterprise Zone, which is a strategically important employment site that will play a key part in the levelling up agenda for our region. The AMRC facility will stand proudly at the ‘gateway’ to the site as a beacon of excellence.  We believe Lancashire is the perfect place for this investment. Manufacturing is in our DNA and we have the right environment, skills and businesses to work with high-value manufacturers.”

Robertson, one of the largest family-owned construction, infrastructure and support services businesses in the UK, was awarded the £11m construction contract for AMRC North West. Alongside Robertson a full design team is in place, including Cartwright Pickard Architects, Curtins Engineers, Arup, Gardiner and Theobald, and Rex Procter and Partners. Work is expected to complete during the second half of 2021.

Dirk Pittaway, managing director, Robertson North West, said: “Any start on site represents an exciting new chapter and the start on site at University of Sheffield AMRC North West heralds a host of new opportunities.  With more than 80% of our orders already placed with local supply chains and SMEs, the construction of the facility will play a fundamental role in boosting the local economy.  We look forward to working with the entire team to deliver an outstanding facility which will be a showcase for both Lancashire and advanced manufacturing technology.”

Currently operating from an interim facility provided by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the centre of Preston, the AMRC North West team’s permanent new home will be a gateway development on the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone which is part of the wider Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Cluster.

The cutting-edge research centre will combine modern office workspace with a flexible high-tech workshop facility and a triple-height atrium will form the social hub of the office space where occupants can interact and exchange ideas. A ‘social heart’ space will overlook the workshop where innovation-led R&D will be carried out with a focus on digital and additive manufacturing, vehicle electrification, battery assembly and lightweighting technologies.


Notes to editors

Photos: More images available here. IMG 1: Construction is underway on the £20m University of Sheffield AMRC North West in Lancashire. IMG 2: An artist’s impression of how the new facility will look.

Media contact: Katia Harston, AMRC Communications Manager,

About the AMRC

  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 AMRC in Sheffield City Region is a catalyst for growth, and the vision for the AMRC NW 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 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 AMRC’s flagship Factory 2050.
  4. The mission of the AMRC NW 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 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. AMRC North West will draw upon the 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.
  6. Revenue funding to support AMRC North West has been secured from the European Structural Investment Fund (ESIF) which is matched with £1.6m from the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult. This 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.


  1. 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 benefited 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

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