Lord Mandelson announces £25 Million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

03 December 2009

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today provided a major boost for the UK's civil nuclear industry with a package of announcements to help British businesses seize the opportunities this growth sector presents.

Speaking at the University of Sheffield's award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) he announced:

  • A new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) to be based in South Yorkshire alongside the AMRC, led by the University of Sheffield with Rolls-Royce as the lead industrial partner.
  • Rolls-Royce's intention in principle to base their civil nuclear factory in South Yorkshire. This factory is part of an investment programme that Rolls-Royce announced on 28 July 2009, which included £45m of investment from the Government.
  • A Nuclear Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) for both Yorkshire and the Northwest, led by both regional development agencies. UK companies have the potential to provide up to 70% of the work on construction of components for new nuclear power plants, and the LCEA will support the development of UK capability to win this business.

The new £25 million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) led by the University of Sheffield with Rolls-Royce will be based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. Funding for the project comprises £15million from the Department of Business, Industry and Skills and £10m from the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.

It is the intention of Rolls-Royce that the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will be a centre of excellence for research and development of advanced manufacturing technologies that will deliver step change, lower cost, high-integrity components to the UK nuclear industry.

The NAMRC will form part of its existing, international research centre network, and will complement the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield. The announcement further consolidates the University of Sheffield's outstanding international reputation as home to one of the UK's leading Faculties of Engineering, with an outstanding record of partnership with industry and job creation. Low carbon energy is one of the University's key research themes, from nuclear to new forms of solar energy.

Speaking to assembled industrialists, regional dignitaries and journalists, Lord Mandelson said:

"We know that we have to make the transition to a low carbon future, and the Government is determined to ensure that British businesses get the support they need to seize the business opportunities that transition creates. The civil nuclear sector is one of the key low carbon industries where the UK has the potential for job creation, economic growth and engineering and manufacturing excellence. Today's announcement is about investing in our future. A greener, smarter, more skilled, more balanced British economy."

The NAMRC will be led by the University of Sheffield with Rolls-Royce, supported by the University of Manchester. It is expected to draw together some 30 partner high-tech manufacturing suppliers who are committed to meeting UK demand and playing a significant part in global markets through the production of high-value, low-volume systems and components in a competitive manner. The goal is to re-develop and re-energise an internationally recognised UK supply chain, with globally relevant and competitive capabilities. Support for training, simulation and modelling will be provided by the National Metals Technology Centre (NAMTEC).

According to Professor Keith Ridgway, Programme Director for the NAMRC and founder of the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre:

"The UK Government and major industrial players such as Rolls-Royce recognise that the long time lag since the last domestic nuclear plant was built poses challenges to UK-based businesses seeking to take advantage of global nuclear supply chain opportunities, as many companies have not maintained or developed their expertise as nuclear equipment suppliers. In particular, UK-based firms need to understand both the opportunities and the requirements of supplying goods and services to the nuclear industry.

"The mantra developed for the aerospace industry of `better, faster, cheaper' greener is equally applicable to the resurgent nuclear supply industry. We are confident that the success of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre which has worked so closely with global aerospace companies such as Boeing and Rolls-Royce can be translated into the nuclear industry which is so crucial to our energy sustainability."

Summarising the impact of the announcement for the regional economy, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward Tom Riordan commented:

"This announcement is incredible news. It recognises the cutting edge facilities and the top quality of our academic and business skills base. The UK's nuclear programme is expected to create over 4,500 engineering jobs over the next 25 years and more than a £1bn a year to the industry. This investment, and others like it, puts the region at the very heart of the UK's energy sector and cements our position as a centre of excellence for manufacturing, to a global marketplace."

Notes for Editors: The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield is one of the largest in the UK. Its seven Departments have over 2,500 students and 700 staff and have research-related income worth more than £40M per annum from government, industry and charity sources. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise confirmed that two thirds of their research was in the top two categories of Internationally Excellent or Internationally Leading. In the 2008 National Student Survey 93% of graduates expressed satisfaction with their courses, placing the Faculty equal first in the UK. The faculty has a long tradition of working with industry as exemplified by the AMRC."

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing

The University of Sheffield's AMRC with Boeing is widely regarded by UK manufacturers as the most successful industrially focused research organisation to have emerged in recent years. Established in 2001 to improve the competitiveness of the UK's aerospace supply chain, it has achieved spectacular success, transforming manufacturing practices in international companies such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Messier Dowty and throughout the UK's advanced manufacturing sector.

The original Dti support to the AMRC of £5.93m in 2001 has been repaid over 100 times in terms of contracts won by UK companies. Industrial partners pay annual contributions of £200k (tier 1) or £30k (tier 2) (cash or in-kind) to be members of the AMRC and these subscriptions fund generic research.

Although the AMRC model is being replicated by Rolls-Royce and Boeing in the UK, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Denmark the AMRC is more than an innovative model, it is a culture. AMRC office and workshop environments are designed to encourage innovation, using multi-level skills on industrially focussed projects, and employing post-doctoral research workers, graduate engineers, skilled operators and apprentices. The AMRC adopts a `Collaborative Approach' to all projects.

Professor Keith Ridgway, Research Director at the AMRC, will take the role of Programme Director at the new NAMRC.

For further information please contact: Lauren Anderson, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2221046 or email l.h.anderson@sheffield.ac.uk or visit The University of Sheffield.