The Deputy Prime Minister has announced the formation of the government’s first elite technology innovation centre. Focusing in the area of high value manufacturing, it will provide access for business to the best technical expertise, infrastructure, skills and equipment that would otherwise be outside the reach of individual companies.
A consortium made up of The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), The Nuclear AMRC, The National Composites Centre and Warwick Manufacturing Group, will receive substantial investment to maximise the economic growth potential of new technology, building on the UK’s strength in basic and applied research, in areas where substantial global markets are forecast.
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says: "This first elite technology and innovation centre in high value manufacturing will support our objective to rebalance the economy by underpinning current UK manufacturing strengths through the development and deployment of novel technologies into sectors such as aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals, whilst at the same time driving the UK into leading positions in new high growth markets by creating a platform for innovative SMEs to work with larger companies in developing technologies such as plastic electronics, fibre reinforced polymer composites and biotechnology."
The Business Secretary, Vince Cable, says: "Each of these partners brings with it a strong network of linkages with universities specialising in developing leading edge technologies in their areas of focus, and industrial companies seeking to co-develop and then exploit these in the market place."
The planned investment of £200m plus into a network of technology and innovation centres was announced by the Prime Minister in October 2010 and, as a driver of key technologies which continues to achieve tough goals and expand the horizons of innovation, was welcomed by CPI. Based on propositions by Hermann Hauser and James Dyson, the technology innovation centre model has been championed by CPI since its inception in 2004.
As the government’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board was given responsibility for establishing and overseeing the network of centres and has ‘fast-tracked’ the centre for high value manufacturing. Over 140 organisations registered their interest and from these a small number of highly credible parties were asked to submit proposals. These were assessed by an independent expert panel and a preferred bidder selected.
CPI’s proven track record of work in the innovation space between the discovery of an idea and the delivery of a product or service to the commercial market clearly fits this criteria. In technology readiness levels (TRL) CPI works from level 4 to level 7. Universities typically work in level 1 to 3 and commercial businesses at level 8 and 9 – CPI and the other consortium members help bridge this gap to enable British companies to commercialise the results of world-class research in the UK and access major new high technology markets.
CPI Chief Executive, Nigel Perry, says: "This is fantastic news for CPI and great recognition for the CPI team and the excellent work we have done since we began in 2004. We are delighted to be part of the High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre and the Government’s initiative to grow manufacturing in the UK, and are looking forward to working with our partners in the new Centre. This announcement heralds sustained investment into manufacturing and CPI’s proven ability to help companies create their next generation of products and processes will grow as a result. This is great news for the UK, for the North-East and for the Process Industry."