The £20m Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Cymru has opened for business in Broughton, Wales.
The state-of-the-art centre will be a catalyst for growth and jobs in Deeside; across North Wales and the wider cross-border and Northern Powerhouse region.
It will provide businesses with a new level of research and development opportunities and support and will be officially opened by First Minister Mark Drakeford and Economy and North Wales Minister Ken Skates.
They will have an opportunity to see some of the groundbreaking and innovative technologies on display at the centre during the launch event.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This is a world-class facility, which will be a key driver in bringing the latest research, technology and skills to Deeside and the wider North Wales region.
“The Deeside Enterprise Zone has a strong manufacturing base and this centre will further strengthen its position for the future, sparking innovation and productivity. It will ensure the area is at the forefront of cutting-edge skills in manufacturing.
“AMRC Cymru will be of benefit for generations to come in North Wales and is part of our aim to have a more prosperous and equal Wales.”
The advanced manufacturing research centre will enable businesses to access advanced technologies, helping them to drive improvements in productivity, performance and quality.
Situated in the Deeside Enterprise Zone, it will focus on advanced manufacturing sectors, including aerospace, automotive, nuclear and food. The region has a strong manufacturing base and AMRC Cymru will build on this, driving world-class research and expertise across the supply chain.
Backed by £20m from Welsh Government, and managed by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, the centre will spark economic growth by developing innovation, commercialisation and the development of a new generation of skills.
It is predicted the new centre could increase GVA to the Welsh economy by as much as £4bn over the next 20 years.
The centre will operate a 2000 square metre open access research area. Airbus will be the first major tenant and will have a platform to develop its next generation wing technologies aligned to its Wing of Tomorrow programme, which is part of a global Airbus investment in research and innovation.
Economy and North Wales Minister Ken Skates said: “AMRC Cymru is a real game-changer for the economy of North Wales. It will boost the region’s reputation for manufacturing excellence and its impact will be felt across Wales.
“Projects such as this help to drive innovation and excellence, enhancing Wales’ reputation a as place to invest and do business. It will play a key role in bringing academia and businesses closer together, boosting skills.
“It’s an amazing facility, developed by the Welsh Government, operated by the University of Sheffield AMRC, bringing the very latest innovations and potential opportunities straight to North Wales. It will raise productivity in the region and along with the North Wales Growth Deal and our investment in infrastructure will allow North Wales to fulfil its economic ambition.
“It’s a very real pleasure after only three years from concept to delivery for me to see it now ready to open for business.”
Colin Sirett, University of Sheffield AMRC CEO, described AMRC Cymru as a landmark moment for both Wales and the UK. “We share the Welsh Government’s ambition and vision to spark growth and productivity for the area and are very proud of this new addition to the University of Sheffield AMRC’s stable of world-class facilities, which will be a beacon for innovation and advanced manufacturing in Wales and the Northern Powerhouse.
“AMRC Cymru will not only help Welsh industry to develop new capabilities that build on an already rich manufacturing heritage but it will strengthen collaboration between industry and academic partners and put Wales centre stage with a leading role in developing cutting edge research, technologies and skills that are key to boosting productivity and growing the economy.”
Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield, said: "We're really proud to be working with the Welsh Government on this bold and ambitious project which will help keep Wales at the forefront of wing manufacture and put world-leading research and development at the heart of a vibrant Welsh economy.
"The University of Sheffield AMRC has built a truly global reputation for world-class, industry focused innovation which drives manufacturing and productivity growth and we're delighted to be bringing our extensive expertise and experience to Wales."
Airbus senior vice president Paul McKinlay, head of the company’s Broughton plant, said: “We’re delighted to be the first major business tenant of AMRC Cymru. The facility is world-class and the perfect home for our most significant research and technology programme Wing of Tomorrow.
“The programme will inform the next generation of wings so when we launch a new aircraft programme, we’ll have the technologies and systems ready to design and build the wings at the rate we need them.
“The fact the Welsh Government chose this area to invest in such innovation underlines the value of the business in the region and we look forward to seeing the development of cutting-edge technologies in a range of industries as a result of this.”
AMRC Cymru was designed and project managed by Arup and the construction was carried out by Galliford Try.