Some of the biggest private sector investment in UK advanced manufacturing over the last 15 years ‘would not have happened without the AMRC’, according to a new report confirming it as a ‘signature asset’ having brought in over £260m of pounds sterling and 600 jobs to South Yorkshire.
Founded in 2001 by the University of Sheffield and Boeing on the site of the former Orgreave Colliery in Rotherham, the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) now has centers in North West and North Wales and is a model for collaborative research that is now being applied to the development of sustainable technologies and products to help its more than 120 industrial partners realize the benefits of an ecological transition.
In 2021, the AMRC celebrated 20 years of innovation, impact and investment. Lichfields economic impact analysis report sets out how the AMRC is a magnet for capital investment, acts as a lever to improve social mobility through its training center and supports a high-value workforce of 520 people which contributes more than £55 million to the economy.
An executive summary has been released ahead of the report’s formal release, capturing the economic benefits attributable to the AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, during its first 20 years of operation. It analyzes the impact achieved through innovation, research and development (R&D), education and skills, high-value employment, leveling, and being a model that can be ‘exported’ to other regions to stimulate economic regeneration.
It shows that in 2019/20, the value of innovation activity undertaken by the AMRC (supporting industry through dramatic changes in productivity, increasing competitiveness and developing new products and processes) amounted to £32.1 million. In addition, the hub unlocked a further £55.6m of leverage or equivalent funding from the private sector, supporting the UK government’s goal of doubling the value of private sector investment in R&D by 2030.
In the new report, Rachel Clark, director of trade and investment at the South Yorkshire Mayor’s Combined Authority, says: “The AMRC is a key draw for foreign direct investment (FDI) and an important part of South Yorkshire’s narrative. for potential investors. Some of the biggest investments in the area over the last 10 to 15 years would not have been made without the AMRC.”
It is the first time the AMRC has directly commissioned an analysis of its impact, having been founded in 2001 in the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham by Professor Keith Ridgway and local businessman Adrian Allen, with critical support from the University of Sheffield and the aerospace industry. Giant Boeing.
The first tenants of the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), the AMRC has played a “key role in transforming the site into an attractive location for advanced manufacturing companies”, attracting major internal investors such as Rolls-Royce and McLaren, which have built facilities in the area, and help the local economy out of the decline of its traditional industrial strongholds of coal and steel.
Data shows that, on average, the AMRC provided manufacturing innovation and technology support to more than 1,100 companies each year between 2017/18 and 2019/20, and 42% of them were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is also identified as “a major employer”, which will support 520 high-value, high-productivity jobs in 2021/22, generating gross value added (GVA) equivalent to £55.8 million per year.
Leader of Rotherham Council, Councilor Chris Read, said: “The AMRC has been instrumental in securing significant private sector investment in the county, providing remarkable training, opportunities and careers for our young people.
“From its iconic location on the former Orgreave Coking Works site, the University of Sheffield AMRC is not only a tremendous example of successful regeneration, it is part of the fabric of our community, sitting at the heart of the flagship series of investments that they are writing the next chapter in Rotherham’s economic history. “It is a partnership that we highly value and with AMRC’s knowledge and experience, we can build on the growing green manufacturing cluster in the region and support the industry to drive and thrive in the low-carbon transition, creating the manufacturing economy. modern of the future. We look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength for years to come.”
A jewel in the research center’s crown is the AMRC Training Center, whose report shows that, since it opened in 2013, more than 1,700 apprentices working with 400 manufacturing companies have been trained. Of those apprentices, 80% live in South Yorkshire, demonstrating the important contribution AMRC makes to upskilling local residents and ensuring local businesses have access to a source of skilled workers.
“Furthermore, the center helps improve social mobility and inclusion, as 50% of all students in South Yorkshire live in areas of high deprivation during their learning,” the report states.
It also notes how the AMRC unlocks innovation activity ‘that could not otherwise take place’ according to its industry partners and adds value by de-risking innovation; improve the leverage of R&D spending; providing access to dedicated R&D space and an unmatched breadth of industry expertise; and accelerate the commercialization of research.
“AMRC’s profile and reputation position it as a distinctive South Yorkshire asset, supporting the area’s efforts to attract in-house investment from advanced manufacturers. This, in turn, has helped create high-value, high-productivity jobs in the local economy,” the report says.
“The benefits of being close to the R&D, innovation and training capabilities offered by the AMRC have attracted a group of advanced manufacturing occupants to the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham and the neighboring Sheffield Business Park. This includes companies of global importance with strong links to the AMRC, including Boeing, McLaren and Rolls Royce.
“In total, an estimated £260m of investment has been attracted to both sites, at least in part, by AMRC’s presence, resulting in the creation of 600 jobs.”
AMRC CEO Steve Foxley said: “It’s fantastic to see the impact AMRC has had over the last two decades in black and white. This economic impact analysis perfectly demonstrates our strengths: driving national innovation, attracting investment to South Yorkshire and creating a manufacturing talent pool.
“However, the report similarly highlights where we need to improve and that is by moving the productivity dial for manufacturers in the regions in which we operate. If we want to sustain our impact, we must commit to helping the companies within our reach improve their processes, upskill their workforce and reduce their carbon footprint.
“We should see this Economic Impact Analysis report as a key takeaway for the AMRC – it confirms how well we have done in the past and illustrates how we can do even better in the future. We have a great story to tell, but we can improve our game.”