North Wales received a double boost today when Economy Secretary Ken Skates announced in principal allocation of £20m to establish an Advanced Manufacturing & Research Institute
The institute will have a strong focus on advanced manufacturing sectors including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. It is aimed at targeting collaborative R&D, advanced manufacturing techniques and production processes, training needs and skills across industry.
Visiting the Airbus plant at Broughton for a board meeting of the Mersey Dee Alliance, Ken Skates said:
“The institute will deliver game-changing support to key manufacturing companies as well as multi-sector supply chain companies and the broader SMEs economy.
“It is geared to increase productivity, commercialisation, innovation and skills development to ensure a thriving competitive industry base that will be a catalyst for growth and jobs across the supply chain in Deeside, North Wales, the Northern Powerhouse and further afield.”
Airbus has confirmed it will be the first anchor tenant for the new centre ensuring two-way maximum benefits for the supply chain and the creation of wider economic advantages. Working with AMRC Sheffield as the key partner it involves the R&D test phase for new wing technology, called “Wing of the Future” which includes the prototype and delivery of design, engineering and a wing demonstrator at Broughton.
Attracting this R&D project to Wales will support Broughton’s ability to secure the manufacture of these new wings in the future which will help towards safeguarding thousands of jobs up to 2030.
The £20m in principal funding from the Welsh Government will support an initial £10m investment from project partners to develop the Institute and maximise every opportunity, including its key geographical location in Wales and its proximity to the Northern Powerhouse.
The institute, which was a Programme for Government commitment, has been developed by the Deeside Enterprise Zone Advisory Board, AMRC Sheffield, Swansea University, and Coleg Cambria in conjunction with SMEs and large companies.
The institute will operate as a single entity, split between a proposed 4,500 sq. mt. state of the art “hub” R&D facility in Broughton and a 1000 – 1,500 sq. mt. networking, training, business development & advice facility in close proximity to the Deeside Industrial Park.
Both centres will be open access and outward looking, actively seeking collaborative partnerships with industry and academia partners locally, such as Glyndwr, and internationally to ensure maximum benefit and complementarity.
Mr Skates said:
“In light of the uncertainties facing companies following the Brexit vote it is more important than ever that we support their innovation and competitiveness. The world-class facilities provided at the Institute will deliver these benefits to large and small business and offer a significant asset in terms of securing new investment.
“I am particularly pleased the Airbus Wing of the Future R&D programme will be the first project to be housed in the facility. The importance of securing the next generation of wing manufacturing in Broughton cannot be overemphasised and the confirmation by Airbus that their development will take place in Wales is testament to their workforce and the wider advanced manufacturing and materials sector in Wales.”
Head of the Airbus plant in Broughton, Paul McKinlay commented:
"This new institute will allow us to develop the industrial systems and processes which allow us to become even more efficient when manufacturing future products, and stay ahead of the competition."
David Jones, CEO of Coleg Cambria and Chair of the Deeside Enterprise Zone Advisory Board said:
“The Board, which is made up of local business leaders, has worked closely with both large and small business to develop the concept behind the institute.
“Potentially any industry involving advanced manufacturing can be supported in relation to products, processes and efficiency, either in terms of skills delivery or R&D.”
A Development Board, supported by a Development Director, is to be appointed shortly and will undertake formal due diligence and finalise the industrial requirement leading to final investment decision. The outcome of that work will confirm the specification and location of the facilities and is expected by summer 2017.