New Research Cell open at Sheffield AMRC

Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory 2050 is set to open a new ‘reconfigurable factory’ research cell to help smaller businesses utilise its resources.

The factory designed to give smaller companies the opportunity to conduct research into machining and assembly technologies in a safe and cost-effective environment.

Factory 2050 is the AMRC’s latest development and was built for the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) to conduct collaborative research with industrial and academic partners into reconfigurable robotic, digitally assisted assembly and part inspection technologies.

The research cell will be able to accommodate projects spanning the trialling of new robotic assembly techniques for mass customisation to small batch manufacturing techniques, small component assembly, and finish machining and polishing operations.

It is the result of a previous project conducted by IMG to produce a small scale, totally reconfigurable factory floor demonstrator, a project which is now being scaled-up for industrial use into a full-scale production cell with multiple tools, grippers and sensors.

The new research cell will be up and running towards the end of autumn in 2017 and IMG is encouraging any smaller manufacturing business who is interested working with them to get in contact.

Operations manager for IMG Chris Greaves said: “The cell will be able to be reconfigured to the specific requirements of an SME with a shorter lead time. This will allow easier, quicker and more affordable engagement for SMEs.

“Our aim is to create more effective engagement and greater open access for SMEs; businesses who may not have the resources to join the AMRC as a member, but still want to take advantage of our state of the art capabilities and world-class research to improve their processes and outputs.”

He added: “Projects don’t have to be long running or expensive to make big changes in short amounts of time. Even small projects requiring a short-lead time can be cost-effective and contribute to the improving productivity of a company.”

Head of IMG, Ben Morgan, said: “There is a common misconception that automation and robotics cause unemployment. What we are seeing in the market is that companies who are implementing automation are re-distributing jobs within their business and as productivity increases, so do profits and re-investment.

“More competitive manufacturing will mean more orders and ultimately more jobs for the region. It is imperative that the Sheffield City Region embraces automation in order that work is not lost to lower cost economies.”

ROTHERHAM MANUFACTURER WINS DEFENCE CONTRACT

A Rotherham-based manufacturing business has secured a contract to supply steel hulls to a defence giant.

Rotherham manufacturer wins defence contract

MTL Advanced is Europe’s largest contract manufacturer of armoured steel structures with projects ranging from piece part kits, turrets and blast floors to fully fabricated, painted and assembled hulls.

In the last three years, it has invested more than £8.5m in state-of-the-art laser cutting, robotic welding and machining technology.

Karl Stewart, director at MTL Advanced, said: “This contract demonstrates the continued growth of MTL Advanced and the confidence our customers have in the team to deliver projects of this type, on time, whilst meeting exacting quality requirements.

“This builds on the success of several recent multi-million pound contracts with NIMR Automotive, which were

delivered on time and within budget.”

 

Source: Joshua Hammond, Insider Media, 5th September 2017

Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund tops the £10 million mark

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) is celebrating reaching another milestone with more than £10 million now invested across the Northern Powerhouse region.

Launched at the end of February 2017, NPIF supports regional entrepreneurship to create economic prosperity in the North of England. NPIF investments are provided through appointed fund managers which have already provided funding and support to over 90 businesses.

The business community has reacted positively to NPIF with corporate finance advisors, the Growth Hubs, banks, and accountants all referring clients to the funds. This is already making a real difference to small and medium businesses looking for funding options for the next step on their growth journey.

One of the latest investments to edge the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund towards this significant milestone was a £100,000 investment by NPIF – Maven Equity Finance, a product fund managed by Maven, which was secured by Manchester-based social media marketing agency, Engage Hub.

The company will be using the investment to expand their current team of specialists and provide additional working capital to meet their rapidly growing customer base which already includes, Living Ventures, the Chop Houses and Q-Hotels.

Huddersfield based software company Adventoris received a a £500,000 funding round which included investment from NPIF – Enterprise Ventures Equity Finance. The fund is managed by Enterprise Ventures, part of Mercia Technologies.

Photo Caption: Left to right – Ashwin Kumaraswamy, Enterprise Ventures, Keith Morgan, British Business Bank, James Clarkson, Adventoris, Mark Wilcockson, British Business Bank

The company, which has developed an innovative mobile app platform, Swiftcloud, will be using the investment to scale up its operations as it seeks to significantly expand its sales force.

Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, said: ”It’s fantastic to see that so soon after we launched the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund it’s already provided £10 million to support Northern businesses. The Fund is a great example of what can be achieved when the Government and businesses work together and is all part of our plan to boost the northern economy, creating more jobs and attracting investment in the region.”

Keith Morgan, CEO of British Business Bank, said: “The North of England has long been a key region for innovation and economic growth in the UK. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is now providing the financial backing to tap the growth potential of businesses across the North, helping both the regional and the national economy.

“Passing this £10m funding milestone in such a short space of time since launch is a fantastic achievement for the fund, our fund managers, and our partners in the 10 participating Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund provides microfinance, debt and equity investments, ranging from £25,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to start up, scale up or stay ahead. The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund is delivered by The British Business Bank.

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, please visit www.npif.co.uk.

Editors Notes

Maven Capital Partners UK LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Firm Reference Number 495929
Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 183363)

RECORD PERFORMANCE FOR POLYPIPE

Doncaster-based plastic pipes manufacturer Polypipe has increased revenue and profit in a ‘record performance’ for the business.

In its half year results for the six months to 30 June 2017, Polypipe’s revenue increased by 8.4 per cent to £242m from £223.3m in the same period in 2016. On a like for like basis the increase was 6.9 per cent.

Profit before tax at the company also increase by 5.3 per cent, to £31.5m, up from £29.9m in the first half of 2016.

Polypipe’s UK operations are fuelling the growth with revenue 6.8 per cent ahead and market outperformance.

There was continued success of strategic growth initiatives of legacy material substitution, carbon efficiency and water management.

The business’ UK Residential Systems segment was particularly strong with 9.2 per cent growth driven predominantly by new house builds.

In response to recent trade embargo between UAE and Qatar, the company has made the decision to temporarily cease manufacturing and reduce costs at its Middle East manufacturing plant which accounts for less than 1 per cent of group revenue.

David Hall, chief executive of Polypipe, said: “The group has delivered another record performance, building on the strong momentum from last year and demonstrating that our strategic focus on structural growth opportunities is delivering results.

“Although underlying fundamentals remain positive, the group has experienced varying conditions in its different markets and has also faced some challenges in the first half of the year.

“I am encouraged by the way the business has risen to these challenges which is further evidence of the depth and strength of management across the group.

“As a result of our growth initiatives, balanced exposure to our markets and overall performance, the board is confident that the group will continue to make progress in line with management expectations for the year.”

Source: Joshua Hammond, Insider Media, August 2017

Planning approved for world leading research centre

Planning permission for Sheffield Hallam University’s new Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) has been granted by Sheffield City Council.

Building of the AWRC is set to start in early 2018 and it will become the centrepiece of Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park (OLP).

Delivered by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Legacy Park Ltd, the AWRC is set to become the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world. The key facility is supported by UK Government, who has committed £14million of funding to the project.

Designed by HLM Architects, the Centre will have facilities such as; a 7.5m high indoor laboratory, 3rd generation pitch with cameras and tracking instruments, 3D biomechanical and gait analysis and scanning, a manufacturing workshop, MRI, CT, ultrasound, body composition measurement and physiological testing and a technology demonstration hub.

The primary aim of the AWRC is to create innovations that will ‘improve the health of the nation’, tackling key issues such as static levels of physical activity, rising obesity and mental health whilst also attracting new jobs and investment to the region.

Opening in spring 2019, it will feature indoor and outdoor facilities for 70 researchers to carry out world-leading research on health and physical activity in collaboration with the private sector. It will form a key part of the City Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District (AMID) – a 2,000 acre centre of excellence for innovation-led research and industrial collaboration.

The AWRC will undertake research focused upon taking services and products from concept to market, using the intellectual property, products and knowledge developed in the centre to generate both wealth and employment opportunities.

Sheffield Hallam’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Husbands, said: “Our vision to develop the most advanced research and development centre for health and physical activity in the world is coming to fruition.  What this means is that Sheffield Hallam will be leading work which has the potential to transform the nation’s well-being.

“The AWRC will revolutionise sport, health-care, physical activity and leisure. Working in collaboration with the private sector at the heart of the Olympic Legacy Park, our talented engineers and researchers will design new products and services from initial concept all the way through to market. This is a major step forward for the University, the city and the country.”

In 2015, Toshiba Medical – a Canon Group Company, and Westfield Health were announced as the first major, private sector partners of the AWRC and will provide cutting edge equipment and technology to assist with research. parkrun became the AWRC’s third major partner in 2016 and will work together with their two million registered runners to improve their health and wellbeing.

Professor Steve Haake, director of the AWRC, said: “This will cement Sheffield Hallam’s global reputation for putting the science into sport and physical activity, but the AWRC will also be an exceptional asset for Sheffield and the wider region in helping to attract new jobs and investment.”

Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the Sheffield City Region LEP, said: “This world leading development will be an inspiring example of what can be achieved in our region, creating jobs and boosting our local economy whilst playing an important role in tackling global problems through innovation and research. The Sheffield Hallam University AWRC at the Olympic Legacy Park will play a key role in the growth and development of the city region.”

Councillor Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre will help to revolutionise sport research and innovation, not only in Sheffield but across the world.

“Creating those networks and opportunities was essential to our wider plans for the Olympic Legacy Park and will be a centre in which the city and country can be rightly proud.

“Sheffield’s world-class offer is attracting businesses, growth and city-wide investment and we are pleased that the plans can now be progressed.”

The Olympic Legacy Park will provide organisations with the opportunity to co-locate at the world-class centre of excellence and partner with Sheffield Hallam University to carry out collaborative research and development, sparking new innovations that link the health and wellbeing, sports and technology sectors.

Through the AWRC’s close links with the National Centre of Sports and Exercise Medicine, researchers will be able to work with the population of Sheffield and use local communities to explore and test the potential of new innovations and products developed at the OLP.

The Rt Hon Richard Caborn, project lead for the OLP, said “The Olympic Legacy Park is set to be an internationally recognised Innovation District for health and wellbeing research and learning, and the AWRC will play an integral role at the very heart of the site.

“Together with the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, this unique facility will make a vital contribution towards sustaining the health of the nation.”

The AWRC was recently highlighted as a key contributor in the Sheffield City Region vision launch which forms a cornerstone for the future of health and wellbeing in the region.

Toshiba Medical UK’s managing director, Mark Hitchman, said: “Our partnership with the AWRC forms a critical part of our strategy to invest and partner in research projects that will have considerable benefits to NHS efforts and UK population at large.

“Our imaging equipment and research and development capability will play a crucial role in identifying and understanding the positive effect of exercise on health and disease prevention, as well as faster rehabilitation of many chronic conditions.”

Westfield Health’s commercial director, Dave Capper said: “As the major private sector partner, Westfield Health is delighted with the progress being made by the AWRC, a world leading research centre which will be core to a whole system approach to population health.

“This is timely news ahead of a delegation visit authorised by the mayor of Frisco in Texas later this month, where a team are coming to see some of the innovative work being done in terms of transferring learning from elite sport to the wider population.”

Tom Williams, chief operating officer at parkrun, said: “The AWRC plays a key role in supporting us with our mission to make the world a healthier and happier place, and it is great to be involved with them at this exciting time.

“We already have excellent insight into who participates in parkrun and why they do so. If we are to achieve genuine, worldwide impact, it is critical that we enhance our understanding of that participation and our partnership with the AWRC is a significant part of that.”