Science and industry in the Midlands has received a significant boost after a pioneering £30 million advanced materials facility announced a collaboration with three universities at its launch event.
The Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC) is forging links with Imperial College London, the University of Manchester and Staffordshire University to develop a new generation of materials scientists and engineers and create a pipeline of talent.
Representatives from the three universities took to the stage at the launch of AMRICC in Stoke-on-Trent to welcome the facility and share their vision for its impact on the local, national and international economy.
Professor Eduardo Saiz from Imperial College London, Dr Kirk Malone from the University of Manchester and Professor Liz Barnes, the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University, joined AMRICC Chief Executive Dr Cathryn Hickey to speak at the event, held at the Moat House Hotel.
AMRICC has been developed to provide a unique international facility which will fast-track advanced materials and materials processes into commercial products.
It will attract students from across the globe looking to develop solutions for the 21st Century and beyond in an environment which champions scientific breakthrough and the business acumen needed to make innovation a commercial reality.
Dr Cathryn Hickey said: “These are significant opportunities which reflect the scope and scale of AMRICC and will enable it to make a positive impact on the economy at a local, national and international level.
“We will build a pipeline of talented people to lead scientific breakthroughs and put the UK at the heart of materials science globally.
“AMRICC will be delivering Masters degrees and PhDs to develop ‘commercial technocrats.’
“This will mean they’re not just studying to be material scientists and engineers, but training within a business-orientated culture with a focus on making science work in the real world.”
AMRICC is being established with the support of the international materials technology company Lucideon as well as Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Stoke–on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
It will be initially based alongside Lucideon’s headquarters in Penkhull. In the future it is set to establish within the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone – being developed on along the A500 corridor in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle under Lyme.
AMRICC will provide a key focal point to attract inward investment and help to address low levels of innovation – and builds on the heritage of ceramics, steel and polymers in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Professor Eduardo Saiz, the Director of the Centre for Structural Ceramics at Imperial College London, said the initiative was much-needed in the fast moving and significant world of material science.
He said: “The development of materials is essential to support a wide range of technologies including healthcare, aerospace, energy generation and transportation to name a few.
“The research into advanced materials is growing quickly worldwide. Helping the development and fast translation of research to industry is essential if the UK wants to maintain a leading position, not only in advanced materials but also in other key strategic technologies that are underpinned by them.
“AMRICC will fill a crucial and urgent need by supporting technology transfer and the spin-out of business in a growing and very competitive strategic field.”
Dr Kirk Malone of the University of Manchester – which is home to the ‘Hub’ of The Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials – believes AMRICC will play a key role in developing a new generation of scientists and engineers with a strong commercial focus.
Dr Malone, Associate Director for Industrial Partnerships at the university’s Centre for Doctoral Training in ‘Materials for Demanding Environments,’ said: “There is great synergy between the training and research aspirations of AMRICC and the university partners.
“Advanced engineering has complex materials challenges that require an interdisciplinary technical approach, whilst also requiring engineers and scientists to be cognisant of the wider business world in which they operate.
“AMRICC is also complemented by The Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, the UK’s new national institute for materials research and innovation. Now is an exciting time to be involved in materials research and development in the UK, and we look forward to building this relationship with AMRICC.”
The launch of AMRICC will also present significant opportunities for Staffordshire University, which has a long-standing reputation for excellence in ceramics and recently transformed its Stoke-on-Trent campus with a £40m investment in new facilities.
Professor Liz Barnes, who was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the university earlier this year, said: “We are delighted to be working with AMRICC.
“We will be focusing on delivering our expertise in applied learning, primarily through our Higher Apprenticeship routes, to support the initiative.
“We have mutual strengths to bring, which means our work will complement that of Imperial College London and the University of Manchester.”