In a hard-hitting intervention, Professor Sir Keith Ridgway has claimed the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre (AMRC) should become independent from the University of
Sheffield to emerge as a pan-Northern institution to create jobs and ensure that the UK’s industrial needs are met domestically.
The Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre, which is based in the shadow of the former coking plant at Orgreave in South Yorkshire, represents how the region is leading the way with replacing traditional industries such as coal mining since the advent of new technologies.
Since opening in 2001, the AMRC has brought hundreds of highly-skilled engineering and scientific jobs to the region and carries out cutting-edge work for some of the world’s biggest corporations.
But Prof Ridgway, who left the AMRC in the autumn, said that the current ownership model by the university “severely restricts” access to expertise at other universities and that the impact of its work is too focused on South Yorkshire rather than the whole of the North.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Professor Ridgway said: “If the Government wants to gear up the North then now is the time to do it.”
Professor Sir Keith Ridgway, one of the AMRC’s founders and until recently its executive dean, believes that the time has come for this model of regeneration to be rolled out across the North, a move he says will restore prosperity by re-industrialising towns and bolster GDP.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “With Brexit and a new Government, now is a really opportune time. Twenty years ago when we started the AMRC we envisaged a spider’s web across the North.
“We have an opportunity now to really gear up the North. We can go back to these towns and do a spider’s web of AMRC-type organisations.”
The engineering expert claimed that large-scale change will be needed to achieve this, and writing in today’s edition of The Yorkshire Post he calls for the AMRC to become independent of the governance of the University of Sheffield and be instead run by a network of universities across the North.
“Ownership by one university severely restricts access to world-leading research in other universities, here in the UK and from around the world,” he writes.
“Having one centre also ignores regional skills and reduces the geographic spread of the impact; it diminishes the importance of place.”
Prof Ridgway also claimed that creating more highly-skilled jobs in Northern towns would bring myriad benefits.
He added: “We have a model that works, let’s widen it. Widen the ownership and widen the access to the research. It is a very critical time for the North. If the Government is putting money in then we have to get it right.”