By Daniel Hunter
A new £80 million package to keep the UK at the forefront of advances in aerospace and advanced manufacturing was announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable today (Thursday).
The Government is investing £25 million, with business, led by Rolls-Royce, providing a further £40 million, for a series of collaborative research and technology projects.
SAMULET II (Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technology) will investigate new manufacturing processes aimed at increasing productivity and making the best use of resources.
The Government will separately invest £15 million in new capital equipment for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult - part of a Government backed network of technology and innovation centres - which will assist projects such as these across the advanced manufacturing sector.
The announcement came as the Business Secretary visited the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham to perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rolls-Royce Advanced Blade Casting Facility.
Dr Cable said:
“Our investment in manufacturing research and technology is a good example of Government and business working together to deliver growth
“This type of research will help ensure the UK stays at the forefront of advanced manufacturing. That is particularly true in sectors such as aerospace where we have a world leading position - and are determined to keep it that way.
“The new factory that Rolls-Royce are building will create at least 150 highly skilled jobs which doesn’t just mean good news for them but for our aerospace sector and the wider economy too.”
The Government investment in SAMULET II will be delivered through the Technology Strategy Board. The programme will see Rolls-Royce working with other companies and universities using the facilities available at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult - including those based at the AMP in Rotherham.
Rolls-Royce Director of Engineering and Technology Colin Smith said:
“Rolls-Royce consistently invests significant amounts of money and resource in order to improve both our products and our manufacturing capability. The vast majority of this investment also continues to improve our environmental performance. SAMULET II will build on the positive work undertaken in SAMULET I by Rolls-Royce along with our industrial and academic partners.”
The new Rolls-Royce Advanced Blade Casting Facility will employ 150 people in a state of the art factory which will produce high-tech turbine blades using advanced manufacturing processes. The casting process grows a blade as a single crystal from aerospace super-alloys producing high performance, high value components that can operate under extreme conditions in the hottest part of the aero engine.
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said:
“Innovation in advanced, high value, manufacturing is fundamental to our future success and is a major driver of economic growth. As the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board has an important role to play supporting and encouraging innovative companies to develop breakthrough manufacturing technologies — technologies that are more efficient, more sustainable, and that can exploit new product and process opportunities.
"We also welcome the further investment in the HVM Catapult, which will expand its offering of cutting edge technologies available for UK companies large and small.”
The Business Secretary added:
"The work of the Aerospace Business Leaders group and the Aerospace Growth Partnership identified an important need for increased investment in manufacturing technologies, so we can produce aerospace products more efficiently and competitively. We are now acting on that with SAMULET II.
“More widely our increased investment in new capital equipment for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult underlines our commitment to keeping our manufacturing industry world class.
“Aerospace is one sector where we do have truly world-class capability. We are the number one in Europe and have the second largest industry in the world. The Government will continue to work with business to help deliver growth to the aerospace industry and I’ll be saying more about that at the Farnborough Air Show next month”.
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