A package of measures to boost science in the Autumn Statement includes £235m to create the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research and Innovation in Manchester with satellite sites in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.
Both Sheffield University and its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Rotherham will receive a boost from this funding package. A further £61m has been allocated to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, of which the AMRC is a leading member.
Much of the AMRC’s work in the Sir Henry Royce Institute is expected to focus on developments in powder metallurgy, so that it can be more widely used in manufacturing.
Professor Keith Ridgway, the executive dean of the AMRC, said: “The Chancellor’s announcement is further confirmation of the Sheffield region’s place at the forefront of developing technology, so that it can give UK manufacturers a global competitive edge.
“There has been a lot of hype around some technologies involving powdered metals, but there are genuine practical opportunities, particularly if we can improve the quality of powders and processes.
“That is the sort of work we plan to be carrying out, thanks to this announcement.”
Prof Ridgway said he hoped that an extra 50 to 100 research jobs could be created at the AMRC following the announcement.
He added: “It’s good for this region and good for major Northern cities.”
The AMRC will work closely with industrial partners, including local manufacturers, on programmes which are likely to focus component manufacturing technologies which use powdered metals such as metal injection moulding, additive layer manufacturing and hot isostatic pressing. An AMRC spokesman said: “All three technologies were highlighted at a recent conference, run by the AMRC-based National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC), as offering unique opportunities for manufacturers.
“The same conference heard that companies’ abilities to seize those opportunities depended on whether they could source ‘clean’ powders, with high surface quality, defined particle sizes and guaranteed flow rates, key issues that are likely to be addressed by the Sir Henry Royce Institute’s work in the Sheffield region.”
A spokesman for Sheffield University said the new hub could help to rebalance the UK’s economy.
Professor Richard Jones, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the university, said the Autumn Statement, was recognition of the hard work already taking place at the university to help drive economic growth.
He added: “This is welcome news and it is fantastic that the University of Sheffield has been seen as a key driver in improving productivity for the UK industry and helping to rebalance the UK economy.
“The centre will bring some of the best academics together and allow us to work even more closely with our neighbours in Manchester and Leeds, but more than that, this is a major boost for northern cities.
“The money will attract industry and bring high quality manufacturing jobs to the region.
“This announcement is also recognition of our vision with the AMRC to translate top class research into actual production and put Sheffield back on the map as the manufacturing capital of Britain.”
Chris Hearld, KPMG’s Northern chairman and office senior partner, welcomed the announcement that Sheffield and Leeds would be involved in the Sir Henry Royce Institute.
He added: “Scientific research and development has a key part to play in rebalancing the UK’s economy and, with today’s announcement, both Leeds and Sheffield are poised to play a full part in this process.”
The Chancellor said the centre would work closely with businesses to provide products vital to the country’s advanced manufacturing sector.
“A few months ago there were no proposals for major new scientific institutions in the North of England”, he said.
“Today we commit to a massive, quarter of a billion investment in a new Sir Henry Royce Institute for advanced material science in Manchester, with branches in Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.”