Manufacturing for the future

18 March 2011

The University of Nottingham is to lead a new £10m Centre for Innovative Manufacturing.

Working with leading companies in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors, the Centre will be a national leader for engineering research in the field of composite materials; a critical technology that will help the UK to develop a low-carbon economy.

Funding over the next five years includes £4.9m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with a further £1.8m from industry partners including Rolls-Royce, GKN, Airbus, Bentley, and Lotus.

The Centre will work closely with businesses on tackling major research challenges, with the aim of turning ideas into new products and processes ready for the marketplace. It has the backing of National Composites Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs) which were also announced by the Government.

Nottingham’s academic partners in the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing are the Universities of Bristol, Cranfield and Manchester.

The Centre will develop new processes to make the next generation of composites cheaper and quicker to manufacture, while increasing efficiency and sustainability. The potential impact is huge – particularly in areas such as lightweight materials for vehicles and transport systems, and in wind and tidal power machinery for the generation of sustainable electricity.

Professor Andy Long of the University of Nottingham, the Director of the new Centre, said: “We are delighted to be leading this exciting initiative. This will underpin our efforts to study and develop the next generation of composites manufacturing processes. We have assembled a world class team of academic and industry partners, which will develop fundamental manufacturing science with real industrial impact.”

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing will support emerging science in areas of strategic opportunity for manufacturing. They will feed new ideas and discoveries through to business and TICs, to open up new industries and markets in growth areas.

Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement at The University of Nottingham, said: “We welcome the UK government’s latest investments in our manufacturing infrastructure. This university plays a key role in driving the development of innovative high value products and processes and we look forward to helping drive future prosperity and sustainable business development.”

The Nottingham centre is one of nine announced today by David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister. Each of the national centres will focus on an emerging area of science, helping generate the new ideas that will fuel growth.

Willetts said: “Partnerships between higher education and industry are increasingly essential drivers of innovation, opportunity and national prosperity. These new centres will combine inventive research and business acumen to develop the high-tech manufacturing industries we need to secure sustainable growth.”

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