Planning permission has been submitted for an advanced sustainable materials and manufacturing hub, the Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Centre (SMMC), which will be located in Atom Valley.  Atom Valley is one of six growth locations in Greater Manchester (GM) and includes significant parts of Bury, Oldham and Rochdale local authority areas. It is a vast, dynamic area of 17 million sq. ft. flexible employment space which once fully realised will offer 20,000 new highly skilled roles within world-class businesses. It offers the greatest opportunity to deliver transformational economic growth in the north and east of the GM conurbation and improve people’s lives

The centre which has 2,724 m2 net floor area, will be located at the Metrolink tram stop at Kingsway Business Park and will include laboratory space, workshops, metrology space, design and analysis studios, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, flexible workspace for start-ups, office space for manufacturers and a café. It will be an inherent part of an existing ecosystem which supports the development and commercialisation of smart intelligent machinery and advanced sustainable materials and Made Smarter technologies. In addition to supporting Innovation Accelerator funded programmes like CEAMS, the Centre of Expertise in Advanced Materials and Sustainability, , SMMC will host a range of RTOs and programmes that will support the Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s ambitions to build a world class cluster of advanced materials and manufacturing in Atom Valley.

Central to the creation of the SMMC has been GAMMA; Greater Manchester’s Graphene, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing Alliance. GAMMA is an alliance of manufacturers, universities and public bodies. Its aim is to create an advanced manufacturing super-cluster in the North of England, focused on advanced materials and industrial digital technologies to support advanced manufacturing in its transition to net zero. It will drive a more productive, sustainable, highly skilled, and innovative industry.

The SMMC will create a step change in GAMMA’s ability to be able to provide businesses with the right support at the right time and provide a route for key advanced manufacturing initiatives to be sustainable for the long-term. It will provide a single point of entry to the GAMMA ecosystem, not just for businesses located in Atom Valley in the Boroughs of Rochdale, Bury and Oldham but also across Greater Manchester and the North of England.

The SMMC will focus on the three main activities central to GAMMA’s strategy:

  • Sustainable Materials in Manufacturing;
  • Industrial Digitalisation;
  • Advanced Machinery;

All of which are underpinned by AI/Machine Learning.

Atom Valley Innovation group chair, Professor Richard Jones of UoM said:

“The submission of planning for SMMC is an important milestone in the work of Greater Manchester to take an innovation-driven approach to transforming the city region. It will form a key part of Atom Valley and wider plans including ID Manchester, connecting companies with world class capabilities from the University of Manchester and others.”

Key to the development and success of SMMC is the appointment of former senior executive at Siemens plc, Justin Kelly, who will be the founding CEO of the centre.

Justin is a Chartered Engineer with a BEng (Hons) from the University of Salford in Computers, Management and Electronics. He joined Siemens in 1994 and worked in engineering, product, project management and business unit leadership roles before taking on senior marketing, strategy, sales and business development positions within the organisation. He was appointed to the Siemens UK Executive Management Board on 1 October 2017.

He currently holds a variety of non-exec roles including as the Chair of Sustainable Ventures North, sitting on the Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP), Transport for the North Board and Chairs the Bright Futures Educational Trust Members. He is an established spokesperson on skills, sustainability and digitalisation across people, environmental and societal themes in industry and has a passion for responsible business.

Newly appointed SMMC CEO, Justin Kelly said:

“It is an incredible opportunity to be the founding CEO of SMMC for so many reasons. The location in Atom Valley will allow the centre to make such a positive impact on the economy of North Manchester and for its population through the sheer breath of opportunity available. This centre will be at the forefront of technology, it will be will be transformational and it will be sustainable. I’m excited about that”.

Henry Henson, Development Manager at Wilson Bowden, said:

“We are delighted to be playing a part in the delivery of this building which will be the central hub of Atom Valley. This is the initial hub and will act as a catalyst for new advanced manufacturing occupiers locating to the region. Kingsway’s unmatched location on the M62 will ensure regionally and nationally, that companies and people will have access to world-class technology and jobs.

Councillor Neil Emmott, Leader Rochdale Council said:

“Atom Valley, located across the boroughs of Rochdale, Oldham and Bury, offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for truly transformational economic growth. We can offer the people living here better life chances, our young people better life chances and our businesses a great community in which to trade and work on a global basis. I am thrilled that the SMMC is making such great progress and look forward to seeing this visible example of our commitment to realise the vision for Atom Valley become a reality”

Councillor Danny Meredith, Cabinet member and portfolio holder at Rochdale Council said:

“We have seen through the success of CEAMS that there is a great appetite from businesses across Greater Manchester to access world class R&D facilities to help develop and commercialise innovation. We are delighted that the SMMC will be located in Atom Valley which spans Rochdale, Oldham and Bury offering great opportunities to residents and businesses alike”.

It is planned that the centre will be complete in Summer 2026.