AMRC Cymru opens for business in Wales

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The £20 million Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Cymru (AMRC Cymru) opened for business yesterday (28 November) in Broughton, north Wales. This state-of-the-art centre will be a catalyst for growth and jobs in Deeside, north Wales and the wider cross-border and ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region.

AMRC Cymru will provide businesses with a new level of research and development opportunities and support. The facility was officially opened by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Economy and North Wales Minister Ken Skates.

“This is a world-class facility, which will be a key driver in bringing the latest research, technology and skills to Deeside and the north Wales region,” said First Minister Drakeford. “The Deeside Enterprise Zone has a strong manufacturing base and this centre will further strengthen its position for the future, sparking innovation and productivity. It will ensure the area is at the forefront of cutting-edge skills in manufacturing. AMRC Cymru will be of benefit for generations to come and is part of our aim to have a more prosperous and equal Wales.”

The AMRC will enable businesses to access advanced technologies, helping them to drive improvements in productivity, performance and quality. Situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, the facility will focus on advanced manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. The region has a strong manufacturing base upon which AMRC Cymru will build, driving world-class research and expertise across the supply chain.

Backed by £20 million from the Welsh Government, and managed by the University of Sheffield AMRC, the centre will spark economic growth by developing innovation, commercialisation and a new generation of skills. It is predicted the new centre could increase GVA to the Welsh economy by as much as £4 billion over the next 20 years.

The centre will operate a 2,000 m2 open-access research area. Airbus will be the first major tenant, where the company will have a platform to develop its next-generation wing technologies aligned to its ‘Wing of Tomorrow’ programme.

Minister Skates said: “AMRC Cymru is a real game-changer for the economy of north Wales. It will boost the region’s reputation for manufacturing excellence and its impact will be felt across the nation. Projects such as this help to drive innovation and excellence, enhancing Wales’ reputation as a place to invest and do business. AMRC Cymru will play a key role in bringing academia and businesses closer together, boosting skills. It’s a real pleasure, after only three years from concept to delivery, for me to see it now ready for business.”

Colin Sirett, University of Sheffield AMRC CEO, described AMRC Cymru as a landmark moment for both Wales and the UK: “We share the Welsh Government’s ambition and vision to spark growth and productivity for the area, and are very proud of this addition to the University of Sheffield AMRC’s stable of world-class facilities. It will be a beacon for innovation and advanced manufacturing in Wales and the Northern Powerhouse.

“AMRC Cymru will not only help Welsh industry to develop new capabilities that build on an already rich manufacturing heritage, but will strengthen collaboration between industry and academic partners, and give Wales a leading role in developing cutting-edge research, technologies and skills that are key to boosting productivity and growth.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, added: "We're really proud to be working with the Welsh Government on this bold and ambitious project, which will help keep Wales at the forefront of wing manufacture and put world-leading research and development at the heart of a vibrant Welsh economy.

"The University of Sheffield AMRC has built a truly global reputation for world-class, industry-focused innovation that drives manufacturing and productivity growth, and we're delighted to be bringing our extensive expertise and experience to Wales."

Airbus senior vice president Paul McKinlay, head of the company’s Broughton plant, said: “We’re delighted to be the first major business tenant of AMRC Cymru. The facility is the perfect home for our most significant research and technology programme: Wing of Tomorrow. The fact the Welsh Government chose this area to invest in such innovation underlines the value of the business in the region, and we look forward to seeing the development of cutting-edge technologies in a range of industries as a result.”