First Minister opens new R&D hub in Renfrewshire; with innovation at its heart, the facility is set to be a catalyst for economic growth
The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), operated by the University of Strathclyde, has today (21 June 2023) opened its new world-class, flagship facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) in Renfrewshire, aiming to be a major stimulus for the country’s economy, skills development, and prosperous, sustainable communities.
Acting as a magnet for advanced manufacturing in Scotland and across the globe, the distinctive heather-coloured, 11,500m2 operationally carbon neutral campus next to Glasgow Airport will support manufacturing, engineering and associated technology businesses of all sizes. Innovative R&D will help them to become more productive, tap into emerging markets, embrace new technologies, and achieve net-zero targets.
Scotland’s manufacturing sector employs over 179,000 people and is responsible for more than 50% of the country’s international exports and 47% of business expenditure on R&D.
The new facility will be home to the NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy, fully connected Digital Factory, and publicly accessible collaboration hub. The Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) – which is also part of the NMIS group – will relocate from its current base in Renfrewshire, splitting its operations between the new building and NMIS’s founding centre the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC).
Featuring a variety of technology zones dedicated to growth areas, the NMIS Digital Factory will include a food and drink cyber-physical demonstrator, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connected shop floor, a factory command centre, and a hub dedicated to helping manufacturers embrace the circular economy and extend the life of their products and systems. The factory demonstrates the vast potential of digital technologies in helping manufacturers improve their products and processes in the drive towards a net-zero economy, while still increasing productivity.
The building was opened by Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf at a ceremony this morning alongside NMIS CEO Chris Courtney; Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Chair of the NMIS Board and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde; Katherine Bennett, CEO of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult; and Adrian Gillespie, CEO of Scottish Enterprise, along with senior delegates from across industry, academia, and the public sector.
The facility was built by Morrison Construction, part of the Galliford Try Group, and designed by Glasgow-based HLM Architects. It features clean and innovative low-carbon solutions to mitigate its impact on the environment, including a large-scale rooftop solar array for electricity generation, access to a state-of-the-art low-carbon district heating network, and rainwater harvesting system.
First Minister, Humza Yousaf said: “The opening of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is an exciting moment – it will ensure that Scotland’s long history of innovation and engineering continues, and also supports our drive to net zero.
“Scotland is one of the most innovative nations in the world. By bringing together research, industry and the public sector, this facility will allow companies of all sizes to embrace creative manufacturing techniques and support cutting-edge research. Manufacturing is critical to our long-term economic recovery and this centre, which the Scottish Government provided funding of £75 million towards, will support that.
“Today we are publishing the first annual progress report on our National Strategy for Economic Transformation. NMIS is a tangible example of the partnership working it promotes, showing our commitment to delivering for both business and people.”
Since 2019, NMIS has helped deliver more than 150 research and development projects for 142 different customers and partners. It has already upskilled and reskilled more than 1,300 people, placed more than 80 graduate trainees in Scottish manufacturing, and supported more than 100 internships.
Chris Courtney, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), said: “A facility of this scale and ambition doesn’t happen by chance. Thank you to our colleagues and partners, who have worked together tirelessly for many years to make it a reality. It’s been a truly collaborative effort – from creating a shared vision of NMIS to delivering our world-class new building.
“We now move into a phase of delivering on those ambitions through intense collaboration with industry and providing innovative solutions to their most challenging problems. Scotland has a strong manufacturing sector – supporting world-renowned capabilities in the maritime industry, renewable energies, food and drink, the satellites and space industry and many others. We also benefit from world-leading universities and a growing number of ambitious technology entrepreneurs.
“NMIS can play a crucial role in harnessing this potential to impact what we make and how we make it more sustainably and efficiently. There is a real industrial demand for greener, innovative technology solutions that harness the power of digitalisation, along with the future skills that we all need to thrive. We will work with our industry partners, talented team and the wider ecosystem to deliver this brighter manufacturing future.”
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Chair of the NMIS Board and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde said, “NMIS will help to position Scotland and the UK as a globally competitive location for research, innovation and high-quality talent for advanced manufacturing across multiple sectors including aerospace, renewable energy, photonics and transport.
“As a unique element in Scotland’s growing innovation ecosystem, NMIS will play a leading role in creating Industry 4.0 capability by supporting industry in developing data, digital and artificial-intelligence-led solutions that will attract major investment to drive local and national economic value.”
Katherine Bennett CBE, CEO of HVM Catapult, said: “This state-of-the-art facility is a true asset for manufacturers. Developing the latest digital technologies, alongside the workforce to deliver it, will enable businesses to become more productive, their supply chains more resilient and the sector more sustainable.
“The success of NMIS is built on collaboration and by working with government partners, academia and industry – with the support of Innovate UK – this new building will be at the forefront of helping HVM Catapult drive industrial transformation for the UK.”
Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Adrian Gillespie said: “NMIS is a truly world-class facility that puts Scotland on the global map of advanced manufacturing innovation and investment. This ground-breaking institution is already attracting interest and investment from international companies, as well as developing partnerships with companies across Scotland.
“Working closely with NMIS, Scottish Enterprise will help Scotland’s manufacturers make full use of the institute’s outstanding facilities and expertise to drive innovation in their processes and product development, and to take their products to markets across the world.
“The Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey has again named Scotland as the top UK location for foreign direct investment outside London. Through our international network, we will promote this fantastic national manufacturing asset to further drive Scotland’s future economic success.”
NMIS is operated by the University of Strathclyde and supported by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Island Enterprise, South of Scotland Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Renfrewshire Council, and the Scottish Funding Council. It is also part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult.