Times Higher Education: The steel city forging a university-industry-community alloy

The University of Sheffield’s world-leading Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) features prominently in a special report by John Morgan in Times Higher Education today (Thursday 10 August 2017) on Sheffield’s past and future as a manufacturing powerhouse.

McLaren cars outside Factory 2050

In a unique collaboration, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University are working as ‘anchor institutions’ for the region - building upon the city’s manufacturing heritage to become a hub of innovation and a model of civic engagement.

On the outskirts of the Sheffield and Rotherham, the AMRC has been working with large manufacturers like Boeing, Rolls Royce and smaller local suppliers in the supply chain to help them innovate their processes.

The centre has expanded dramatically in recent years to include Factory 2050, a dramatic landmark building which develops innovative manufacturing via digital technology and robotics, and the AMRC Training Centre, which trains 200 apprentices a year and matches them with employers.

In the piece, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield explains how the AMRC came about because of the university’s combination of expertise in engineering and advanced materials - and the relationship between AMRC’s Executive Dean, Professor Keith Ridgeway and a local manufacturer who went one to a win a contract with Boeing. An “ambitious city [and] local authority that believes in the possibility of [the centre]” was another key element, he adds.

Sheffield skyline

The feature goes on to talk about the collaboration between the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who have worked together to launch a 25-year vision for the city region. The partnership aims to work closely with councils, businesses, nonprofits and individuals to develop a comprehensive long-term vision for the region’s economic growth, innovation, healthcare, education and environment.

The AMRC already benefits the city region massively – and leading manufacturers McLaren and Boeing announced earlier this year plans to build new factories on the site and work with the centre on future developments, also employing apprentices.

The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP with apprentice

Professor Ridgeway discusses the potential transformational effect a centre like the AMRC can have on a region combined with Sheffield’s high quality of life and the opportunity for greater regional autonomy through a proposed devolution deal.

“You’ve got London. You’ve got Manchester, which is overheating on property,” he says. “Where will the next big city development be? Could that be Sheffield?”

Read full article: Times Higher Education