Land deal supports advanced manufacturing ambitions

From Left to Right: Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management, The Sheffield University, Graham Sadler, Managing Director Sheffield Business Park, Professor Keith Ridgeway, The Sheffield University.

The University of Sheffield has signed a deal to secure 52 acres of land at Sheffield Business Park – a move which will support the progress of exciting plans to create a critical mass of hi-tech, advanced manufacturing businesses along the Parkway corridor.

The first development on the new site will be Factory 2050, a stunning circular building which will combine a range of technologies, including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line printing in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools.

The planned developments will build on the success of the University of Sheffield’s investment in the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe. Since the original building opened in 2004, four further new buildings and two extensions have been added to provide a current total of around 30,000 sq. m of accommodation. As well as securing its own impressive growth, the AMRC has also played a pivotal role in attracting other hi-tech engineering businesses to the AMP.

The new location – sited directly opposite the existing developments on the other side of the Parkway – will help to secure Sheffield’s place at the heart of advanced manufacturing in the UK and as a key player on the global stage.

Plans for Factory 2050 were submitted to Sheffield City Council at the end of last week and a decision is expected by April. A detailed masterplan for the entire 52 acres will be submitted to Sheffield City Council’s planning department in the Spring.

Keith Lilley, the University’s Director of Estates and Facilities Management, said the land deal was the key to the future for this increasingly important sector.

“The success of the AMRC over the last few years has shown clearly the demand there is for this kind of specialist, hi-tech, high value engineering activity, and it was clear that we would soon outgrow the small amount of land still available on the existing Waverley site. Today’s deal opens the door to a fantastic opportunity which will allow us and our many partners the chance to build a hub of activity which will bring an enormous boost to the region.

“An independent survey of the economic benefits has demonstrated that, during construction, Factory 2050 will directly contribute £6.4 million to the local economy and create 162 jobs, with a much wider indirect economic impact. And once operational, it will directly contribute almost £2 million annually, as well as employing 75 people – with further significant indirect economic impact. And once the rest of the site starts to be developed, there will be massive economic benefits, both direct and indirect.”

The AMRC’s Executive Dean  Professor Keith Ridgway said the new development represented a step change in the University’s ability to work in partnership with some of the world’s leading companies.

“We already have fantastic relationships with a number of leading aerospace and engineering companies and we’ve proved over the last decade that there is an enormous appetite from industry for the innovative work we do here.  This significant expansion will put us in an even stronger position in terms of translating the research carried out by the University of Sheffield into practical applications which offer high tech solutions right across the manufacturing sector.”

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