University’s Royce Institute given funding boost in Ministerial announcement

Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson has today (23 February 2017) confirmed £128 million of funding for the Henry Royce Institute, which includes a substantial centre at the University of Sheffield.

The Royce Institute will allow the UK to grow its world-leading research and innovation base in advanced-materials science, which is fundamental to all industrial sectors and the national economy.

The Institute, led by the University of Manchester with a satellite facility in Sheffield and support from other universities, is a critical component of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative and an attempt to boost economic growth in the North of England and balance the UK economy.

Today’s announcement includes £3.5 million of funding for the University of Sheffield wing of the project, which includes a pioneering Sheffield Royce Translational Centre in a new building next to the University’s Factory 2050 at its Advanced Manufacturing Campus, and a research centre at the University of Sheffield’s city centre campus.

Professor Mark Rainforth, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Advanced Metals Processing academic champion for Royce, said “The Translational Centre will act as an open access centre of excellence, incorporating both existing and newly purchased state of the art powder manufacture and processing facilities, to raise the profile and consolidate regional metal powder expertise.

“The centre will enable Sheffield to lead on advanced powder manufacturing and processing to transfer knowledge and experience, gained from working with industry, to local SMEs active in the healthcare, energy, oil and gas, manufacturing and construction supply chains.”

Last year, the Sheffield Royce Translational Centre received a £4 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

The centre will work alongside a second new Royce research centre, the Royce Discovery Centre at the University’s city campus, which will be focussed on early-stage research on materials discovery and processing. The Translational Centre will then take these research discoveries and work with companies to help apply it to their manufacturing challenges.

It will house global-leading academics and engineers along with industrial-grade machines to bridge the gap between research into metal processing and applications for sectors such as aerospace, automotive, energy, medical and high-value manufacturing.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, said: “We welcome today’s funding announcement and the University is proud to be leading the way in this area.

“The Royce Translational Centre will provide businesses with access to the most prestigious and advanced research, innovation and equipment - bridging gaps within the UK supply chain and developing the world-leading products and processes that will help re-shore key parts of manufacturing and drive the UK's economy forward.”

A major part of today’s funding announcement includes £105 million, which will be devoted to the construction of the building to host Royce at The University of Manchester.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science said: “The Royce Institute and grants announced today will benefit our world-leading science and innovation sector. The funding will support development of advanced materials, such as graphene, for research applied in a variety of fields from aerospace to healthcare.

“The government is determined to support further commercialisation of our science and research discoveries as innovation leads to new products, services and better ways of doing business. Our modern industrial strategy will help us ensure the UK maintains its status as one of the best places in the world to conduct research, discover and innovate.”

The beneficiaries in this first tranche of funding also include the universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Leeds, Imperial College London and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), that form the satellite or spokes of the Institute, along with the Hub at The University of Manchester. Other spokes, the universities of Liverpool and Oxford and the National Nuclear Laboratory, will receive funding at a later date.

Royce CEO and University of Sheffield alumnus Dr Andrew Hosty said: “This confirmation of significant government investment for the Henry Royce Institute via EPSRC is a crucial step in delivering a world-leading Institute in advanced materials science.

“The funding will allow for state-of-the-art facilities and precision equipment to carry out fundamental research and produce the next generation of applications in a wide range of areas.”

This major investment is part of the £235 million capital funding announced for the Institute in the Autumn Statement 2014 and comes from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said: “These investments are spread across five universities and CCFE will equip the research community with the facilities it needs to fully explore the exciting possibilities of advanced materials across a wide range of potential applications. The UK is in a strong position in this field and there is much to be optimistic about. We have no doubt that the Sir Henry Royce Institute will deliver a programme of work that ensures that fundamental science provides a well-spring for new innovations.”

The aims of the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials are:

  • Accelerate safely and with confidence the use of advanced materials in existing and emerging industrial sectors within the UK.
  • Underpin and provide growth to the entire UK manufacturing base and reduce the time to market from invention to application for new materials, with significant knock-on impact for the national economy.
  • Invent and innovate new materials in various sectors covering fabricating, testing, analysing and demonstration, under different operating environments and provide the 'missing link' in the development of materials within the UK.
  • Cover a number of sectors from soft-to-hard-to-functional materials allowing translation of ideas across sectors.
  • Provide an international beacon for UK expertise and deliver national leadership and critical mass to allow identification of expertise within the UK.
  • Attract inward national and international investment from industry, academia and government.
  • Provide the required skills and training, allowing industrialists to work alongside academics, to produce the expertise of the future from apprentices to doctorates.

Additional information

Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials

The Henry Royce Institute (Royce) brings together world-leading academics from across the UK, and works closely with industry to ensure commercialisation of fundamental research. The Institute will have its hub at The University of Manchester, with spokes at the founding partners, comprising the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.

It will focus on nine key areas of materials research, which are grouped into four themes – Energy, Engineering, Functional and Soft Materials – critical areas to underpin the government’s industrial strategy, resulting in economic growth throughout the UK.

University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046