University’s Vice-Chancellor unveils ambitions for manufacturing and technical education

  • University Vice-Chancellor Sir Keith Burnett spoke of his hopes for major growth in the City Region’s manufacturing sector at 378th Cutlers’ Feast
  • University’s ambitions for High-Value Manufacturing Valley along the M1 corridor revealed
  • Sir Keith outlined opportunities around the manufacturing for civil nuclear energy and high speed trains

University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett last night (Thursday 15 May 2014) chose what has been termed ‘the most important business dinner outside London’ to unveil the University’s ambitions for a High-Value Manufacturing Valley along the M1 corridor supported by a new generation of technical education.

Speaking at the 378th Cutlers’ Feast – an annual dinner for members of the Cutlers of Hallamshire – Sir Keith outlined his hopes for major growth in the City Region's manufacturing sector, drawing on the success of the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).Sir Keith Burnett

Looking beyond the success of the AMRC and its award-winning partnership with industry, Sir Keith described the potential for a further step change in the partnership between the University, industry and the region in the interests of the economy and opportunity.

He said: “I believe we have the potential for a great deal more, something which could transform the AMRC site at Waverley into the hub of advanced manufacture in the UK: a High Value Manufacturing Valley along the M1 corridor and renewing our city region and nation through the possibilities of investment and major new production.”

Sir Keith described his belief that the UK faces three choices in relation to manufacturing:

• Buying from the rest of the world and accepting the subcontract work they pass down to us
• Developing new products and processes in SMEs – difficult to move quickly for reasons of investment
• Or accepting the challenge of large infrastructure projects – working together to make in the UK, develop our intellectual property in the UK and to sell what we make to the rest of the world.

A member of the Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology who also advises the Treasury on major infrastructure projects, Sir Keith outlined particular opportunities around the manufacturing for civil nuclear energy and high speed trains.

He noted: “Why shouldn’t small modular reactors which can play a key role in our energy infrastructure – and indeed in keeping the lights on – be made here in Sheffield? New build nuclear energy will be an investment of approximately £60 billion. Should the ability to manufacture the civil nuclear energy which will be needed to power a nation which began in this country be lost to France or to China?

“And why should our region not only have a station for High Speed 2 but actually produce the trains which will run on that track? Because we can. The HS2 market is worth £7 billion. What would that mean to our region and to our nation? We have the skills to do this kind of work better and more efficiently.”

The speech also described the University’s willingness to think in new ways about partnerships with industry to ensure the development of the very highest quality apprenticeship routes into Higher Education which would support this activity.

Sir Keith added: “Might the first of a new form of industry-led university be imagined and developed here in Sheffield? Could we see the foundation of a world-leading Manufacturing Institute of Technology, a Royal College which would ensure that the arrival of new companies from around the world did not sap our local industries of the talent which is so crucial to your own future?”

The speech was welcomed by Master Cutler Tony Pedder OBE who commented: “I am delighted that the Vice-Chancellor was able to share such an inspiring vision with the
Cutlers Company. The challenge is clear and we are determined that we will rise to it.

“New innovation is required as we continue to reengineer our world. If we get it right, there is a real opportunity for UK to be, where it has been before, at the forefront of a global demand for world-leading engineering. If we get it right, we in UK can, at the same time as participating strongly in this global growth, also achieve a much needed rebalancing of our own economy away from over-dependence on the service sector.”

Additional information

The Cutlers of Hallamshire

The Cutlers of Hallamshire was founded in 1624. For 400 years the Cutlers’ Company has sought to maintain the standards and quality of Sheffield manufactured cutlery and steel products and to promote the name of Sheffield. The Company today highlights innovation in the region, encouraged the development of skills and is a national voice advocating the importance of manufacturing to the UK.

The Cutlers’ Feast is the most important event in the Cutlers’ calendar. This year’s speakers

• The Master Cutler – Tony Pedder OBE, DL
• Senior Warden – David Grey MBE
• Deputy Prime Minister – Nick Clegg MP

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre

The University of Sheffield AMRC is a world-leading cluster of industry-focused manufacturing research and development, training and business support. It includes two core research centres – the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (launched 2001), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (launched 2009), both part of the government-backed High Value Manufacturing Catapult – plus Castings Technology International (CTI), the National Metals Technology Centre (Namtec), the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre and other supporting facilities, and the new AMRC Training Centre.

The AMRC with Boeing identifies, researches and resolves advanced manufacturing problems. It has over 70 member companies from across the supply chain, from global corporates such as Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and BAE Systems, to local SMEs.

The AMRC with Boeing has received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in recognition of its world-leading approach to collaboration with business, and in 2011 it was named Boeing Supplier of the Year.

The Nuclear AMRC

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) is a collaboration of academic and industrial partners from across the nuclear manufacturing supply chain. Its mission is to:

- Enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry.

- Work with members to develop world-leading manufacturing processes and technologies.

- Help British manufacturing companies compete for nuclear contracts worldwide.

The AMRC Training Centre

The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund, and provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally. As well as apprenticeships, the cutting-edge programme links with both Sheffield universities, giving apprentices the opportunity to continue their higher- level education from degree level work through to doctorate and MBA level.

The AMRC Training Centre also provides a range of courses for continuing professional development, providing a full range of training support from apprenticeships right through to bespoke training for senior executives in manufacturing.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 2221046