The money comes from the UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund and will help with the creation of the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute.
AMPI is slated to bolster the machinery manufacturing industry in the UK by encouraging invention, innovation and the incorporation of advanced technology into the sector. It is the work of a consortium of industry and education leaders led by the National Physical Laboratory, alongside the Rochdale Development Agency. Members of the consortium include PTG Holroyd, The University of Manchester, the University of Huddersfield, Wayland Additive and The University of Leeds.
The £22.6m will go towards a five-year innovation programme, rather than the building of the actual institute. But it does act as a kickstart for the project as a whole and signals that plans for the building will move forward. The consortium aims to open AMPI towards the end of 2024.
AMPI is expected to grow the country’s advanced machinery capability to a £2bn export capacity within 10 years. That will, in turn, create more than 30,000 manufacturing jobs.
“The AMPI will create a centre of manufacturing excellence in and around Rochdale, and will be a major asset for the manufacturing sector in the wider North,” said Juergen Maier, chair of the Greater Manchester Graphene, Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Alliance.
“It is a prime example of what can be achieved when partners from industry, academia and local and national government work together.”
Rochdale Borough Council leader Cllr Neil Emmott called the project a “game-changer.”
“It will transform our borough into a major centre of activity for advanced machinery, which will see the National Physical Laboratory, universities and companies all come together to harness cutting edge technology and create hundreds of highly skilled jobs on our doorstep,” Emmott said.
“These types of projects are often the preserve of big cities, but from our days as a global leader in the textile trade, we’ve always liked to do things differently here. That’s why we’re working hard through our growth plan to future-proof our economy and keep bringing those new and rare opportunities into the borough.”
AMPI is still in the preparation and briefing stage of development. So far, Fairhurst Design Group has created the initial designs for the project. WSP, Walker Sime and Faithful + Gould have helped with the physical plans.
The consortium estimates that the first phase of the building will cost £30m. Half of that has already been secured through Rochdale’s award from the Town’s Fund. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is working to help the group get the rest of the funding.
AMPI was one of five projects to be awarded money through the Strength in Places Fund. The Digital Dairy Value-Chain project in Scotland and Cumbria was granted £21.3m, the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group was awarded £18.3m, Media.cymru in Wales won £22.m and Smart Nano NI in Northern Ireland earned £42.4m.