The latest satellite branch of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has opened its doors in Preston, Lancashire, in the shape of AMRC North West.

AMRC North West
(Credit: AMRC)

Backed by £20m in funding from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the new facility adds to the network of the University of Sheffield’s AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre), which was founded more than 20 years ago. Other sites under the AMRC umbrella include AMRC Cymru, AMRC Training Centre, the Advanced Structural Testing Centre and Factory 2050.

AMRC North West will be home to a range of research including additive and digital manufacturing, batteries and automation, 5G for manufacturing, robotics, autonomous manufacturing processes and systems, and low-carbon technologies. Engineers associated with AMRC North West have been working with Lancashire manufacturers since 2018, based out of a temporary base provided by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The new centre now gives those engineers a permanent home situated at the centre of the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone in Preston.

“The launch of AMRC North West is a huge achievement,” said Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield.

“By bringing translational research to the doorstep of existing and new industry we can help to boost productivity and attract more investment to Lancashire. The AMRC has a strong 20-year history of working with manufacturers of all sizes to develop greener, more efficient products and processes, and we look forward to working with our partners in Lancashire to support the region’s economic growth.”

The centre will also play home to the 5G Factory of the Future project, a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) funded programme aiming to drive the adoption of 5G technologies in manufacturing through a consortium of industrial and academic leaders from the manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. According to Debbie Francis, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), AMRC North West is a vote of confidence in the region and will be a boost to Lancashire manufacturing.

“Manufacturing is in our DNA and the fact that the AMRC made the decision to locate in the county is testament to our capabilities in this sector,” she said. “These world-class facilities will not only enable our businesses to realise their growth potential and create high-value jobs and thereby contribute to the levelling-up agenda, but the facilities will also help them to decarbonise industrial legacy buildings which is critical if we are to meet our net zero ambitions.”

AMRC North West was officially opened on Thursday, March 10 by Lee Rowley, Minister for Industry at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), alongside Professor Koen Lamberts and Debbie Francis.