Strathclyde to oversee new £8.9m Lightweight Manufacturing Centre

Nicola Sturgeon with students on a visit to Strathclyde's Advanced Forming Research Centre in Inchinnan.

The University of Strathclyde will run a new £8.9m Lightweight Manufacturing Centre following an announcement by the Scottish Government.

The Centre will support highly-skilled jobs and give Scotland a competitive edge in manufacturing processes for materials such as titanium and carbon fibre.

Announcing the investment at Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre at Inchinnan, which will run the new Centre, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was a first step towards creating a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland.

The Centre will be set up in the former Doosan Babcock facility in Westway, Renfrew and produce lightweight materials which are increasingly being used in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas and renewables industries to increase efficiency and performance and help reduce carbon emissions.

Economic success

Speaking to an audience of 75 companies at the AFRC, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “A vibrant and innovative manufacturing base is critical to Scotland’s economic success and to creating skilled employment opportunities for the future.

"The Lightweight Manufacturing Centre will help Scottish businesses take advantage of the fact that sectors such as aerospace and the automotive industry are making more and more use of lightweight materials. It will deliver cutting edge research and development projects with and for companies in Scotland.

"Scotland enjoys resources few nations can match, including one of the most highly-educated workforces in Europe, a long-standing reputation for excellence in innovation and engineering and an internationally-regarded brand.

"The Scottish Government will continue to do all we can to support growth in the Scottish economy, including the Small Business Bonus taking 100,000 business premises out of rates altogether, investing in our £6 billion infrastructure plan and delivering £200m of investment through the Scottish-European Growth Co-investment Programme – the first tranche of investment through the Scottish Growth Scheme.”

The National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland will equip manufacturers to compete in future international markets and support the transformation of Scotland’s manufacturing industry in terms of innovation and digital opportunities, creating sustainable, high-value and highly skilled jobs.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Scotland has a track-record of world-class research and innovation, and is committed to setting new standards in manufacturing and design. 

“At Strathclyde, we are delighted to have used our leading manufacturing capability to drive the development of this new centre with the Scottish Government. The centre is a crucial step towards transforming Scotland’s manufacturing industry, creating new opportunities and sustainable, high-value jobs.

“We have a long history of bringing together academia, business and industry, and government. Today’s announcement will enable companies of all sizes and across sectors to get involved in leading-edge lightweighting research and expertise to help Scotland compete on the world stage.”

Funding for the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre will consist of £3.9m from the Scottish Government, £3.4m from Scottish Enterprise and £1.6m from the Advanced Forming Research Centre. 

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre is a globally-recognised centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing technologies, R&D, and metal forming and forging research. The £60 million facility was established in 2009 with 12 members of staff. It now employs 133 highly skilled engineers, researchers and business professionals.

The National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland is being developed by the Scottish Government and Strathclyde University, in association with the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, Enterprise agencies, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the private sector.