Go-ahead for £8.9m Renfrew manufacturing centre

Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde

The Scottish Government said on Monday that a specialist centre to develop new manufacturing processes for lightweight materials for the aerospace and automotive industries is to be set up as a first step towards creating a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland.

The £8.9 million Lightweight Manufacturing Centre is being set up in the former Doosan Babcock facility in Westway, Renfrew.

It will be run by the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in Inchinnan.

It is hoped the centre will give Scottish companies a competitive edge in new manufacturing processes for lightweight materials such as titanium and carbon fibre which are increasingly being used in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas and renewables industries.

Lightweight materials increase efficiency and performance and help reduce carbon emissions.

Funding for the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre will consist of £3.9 million from the Scottish Government, £3.4 million from Scottish Enterprise and £1.6 million from 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 £200 million of investment through the Scottish-European Growth Co-investment Programme – the first tranche of investment through the Scottish Growth Scheme.”

Andrew Colquhoun, CEO of Doosan Babcock, said: “Doosan Babcock welcomes the Scottish Government’s initiative to bring high-quality manufacturing jobs to Scotland.

“The investment to expand the capabilities of the AFRC with this new Lightweight Manufacturing Centre will help transform the manufacturing industry, keeping Scotland at the forefront of innovation and engineering excellence.

“Innovative thinking and strong collaboration between Doosan Babcock, AFRC, Strathclyde University and Scottish Enterprise has driven this opportunity.

“Doosan Babcock are honoured that this facility will be located within the Renfrew site, and look forward to supporting the initiative and strengthening our links with both AFRC and Strathclyde University.”

Professor 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.”

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre is a 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 and now employs 133 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.