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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 (NMIS).

The First Minister announced today that the £8.9m Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, being set up in the former Doosan Babcock facility in Westway, Renfrew, will support highly skilled jobs and help place Scotland at the forefront of lightweight manufacturing.

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

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.

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 is being developed by the Scottish Government and Strathclyde University, in association with the Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering, our Enterprise agencies, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), the Scottish Funding Council and the private sector. It 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.

Billy Scott, Key Sector Manager: Engineering at SDS said: “Skills Development Scotland is proud to be part of such an exciting partnership.  The skills proposition for NMIS will support training at all levels including Foundation Apprenticeships, Modern Apprenticeships, Graduate Level Apprenticeships, postgraduate training and the continued professional development and upskilling of existing staff.

“The skills academy will act as a hub with locally accessible strategic sites networked across the country.  And in addition to this local element, the Manufacturing Skills Centre will be responsible for curriculum development, quality and delivery across the network and ensure that the training provided is consistent with the high-level technologies being developed within NMIS.

“I firmly believe that NMIS will act as a beacon for attracting future talent in to exciting careers in Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing.”

Scottish Enterprise managing director of strategy and sectors, Linda Hanna, said: “Manufacturing in Scotland plays a vital role in the success of our economy.  As such, we need to ensure it is equipped to respond to the changing global environment, remains focussed on innovation and continues to attract international investment.   

“The establishment of this new Lightweight Manufacturing Centre will do exactly that to help key industries in Scotland like Aerospace, as well as many others, maximise opportunities from light weight materials to open up new markets, reduce costs and emissions.  We look forward to continuing to work closely with the AFRC and University of Strathclyde to help companies benefit from this investment and utilise leading global manufacturing techniques and processes.”

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.

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