A Government investment of £28m will be made to enhance the capabilities and capacity of the UK National Composites Centre (NCC).
The NCC, located near Bristol, UK, opened in November 2011 to meet the needs of industry which is increasingly making use of composite materials. The Centre, which is owned by the University of Bristol, has expertise and industrial-scale facilities that are being used to develop the technologies which will result in more fuel efficient land, sea and air vehicles as well as, for example, the next generation of wind and marine renewable energy devices.
The NCC, which is a part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, says it will invest the money to construct additional facilities adjacent to the existing building. As well as providing increased capacity and a dedicated high speed composite manufacturing technology facility, part of the new building will be utilised to ensure a sustainable future for the Composites Manufacturing skills in the UK workforce by bringing together leading businesses, colleges and Universities at a world-class training facility.
This has reinforced the NCC's continued success in providing a Hub for the UK Composites industry, and brings the total Government funding contribution to the centre to over £40m.
In his Autumn Statement Speech Chancellor George Osborne said, "Today we're confirming almost half a billion pounds for scientific projects, from supercomputing and satellite technology to a world-beating animal health laboratory."
Within that there is '£28 million to increase the capacity of the National Composite Centre in Bristol, which brings together entrepreneurs and academics to deliver world-class innovation in the design and rapid manufacture of composite materials'.
NCC Chief Executive Peter Chivers said, "I am thrilled by the announcement today, which reflects Government's on-going commitment to High Value Manufacturing and its growth in the UK. Composites are key to the future of many UK sectors and their endeavours to reduce CO2 emissions. The extended NCC, which will provide for further innovation in multi-sectoral manufacturing and technology development, skills and education, and offering greater support for SME's and the supply chain, will be fundamental in allowing the UK to remain competitive in this rapidly growing global market. Working with the newly formed UK Composites Leadership Forum, we now have a world-class platform for catalysing growth."
Professor Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research at the University of Bristol added, "This is a clear signal that the renaissance in research-driven high value engineering is a key pillar in the UK's economy. This is great news for the interface between leading research and industry, for Bristol and for the UK."
Chairman of the NCC Steering Board speaking for the industrial partners, Jim Godman of AgustaWestland, said, "This is most welcome news, showing the true collaboration between the UK Government, the National Composites Centre and industry at this critical time. This funding will enable the NCC to build upon the phenomenal success of phase 1 and make the centre more accessible and even more relevant to UK business. This investment will support UK industry's on-going competiveness in this rapidly growing global market and further enhance High Value Manufacturing's ability to bring real benefit to our economy. The investment announced today is great news at a very exciting time for the composites industry. As we prepare to meet the challenges of light-weighting and sustainability in all sectors, industrial partners need to work together to invest in the infrastructure and skills we need to support growth. The NCC project will play a key role in this and we're extremely proud to be part of it."
The new building is planned to be completed by 2nd quarter 2014.