Boeing has teamed up with Sheffield University to invest in a £15m aerospace research centre to be built on the former South Yorkshire coalfields.
the centre, set to create thousands of jobs in engineering and manufacturing, will recruit up to 60 graduate engineers in its first phase.
The site, part of a £500m regeneration project for the region, will research new methods and materials for use in aerospace component manufacture. It will also act as the hub for a manufacturing park, which the university expects to create 7,000 skilled jobs over the next five years, including further roles for engineers.
Dr Neil Simms, mechanical engineering lecturer at Sheffield, said the centre aims to reduce aerospace component costs by applying research to manufacturing, and spreading best practice among suppliers at the park.
The centre is expected to produce spin-off companies of its own, increasing opportunities for more research, by creating industry-academic partnerships, said Simms.
‘Historically there has been too wide a gap between academia and industry, and the great thing about this project is that some of the really good ideas to come out of the research centre will be used in industry,’ he said.
The centre was cited in a recent government white paper as an example of how R&D hubs can lead to productive partnerships among universities, established companies and start-ups.
Professor Keith Ridgway, head of design and manufacture at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Sheffield, said he hopes the centre will attract and sustain a cluster of high-tech companies by helping them improve their customer base.
‘The whole idea of the centre is to work with the supply chain. If each of the suppliers can take advantage of the research and get better at making things, they’ll get more work from the original equipment manufacturers,’ he said.