A new state-of-the-art centre, supporting the development and commercialisation of advanced sustainable materials, will bring high-impact investment to Rochdale and the Greater Manchester city region.

The Centre of Expertise in Advanced Materials and Sustainability (CEAMS) is funded as part of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) Innovation Accelerator programme. It will build on existing capability anchoring strategic businesses to the area.

Initially funded as a two-year pilot, CEAMS is led by a consortium of expert partners, including: Rochdale Development Agency (RDA), Henry Royce Institute, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult) and its centres: Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), National Composites Centre (NCC) and Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) and University of Manchester (UoM).

The collaboration will ensure that businesses have a strong support network that will help to anchor their operations to the region.

The programme will build on the existing capability of regional businesses to support the development of advanced sustainable materials. It will address current supply chain gaps in the provision of materials such as polymers, composites, biomaterials, technical textiles and coating, and improve industry’s ability to scale up and adopt sustainable materials in manufacturing applications.

Globally there is a gap in companies able to provide advanced sustainable materials for manufacturing supply chains and a market failure in industry’s ability to scale up and adopt sustainable materials in manufacturing applications.

The programme will be located in Atom Valley which is a vast, dynamic area of 17 million sq ft flexible employment space which when complete will offer 20,000 new highly skilled roles within world-class businesses.

This project is funded by the Greater Manchester Innovation Accelerator programme.

Led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation, the pilot Innovation Accelerator programme is investing £100m in 26 transformative R&D projects to accelerate the growth of three high-potential innovation clusters – Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda, this is a new model of R&D decision making that empowers local leaders to harness innovation in support of regional economic growth and help attract private R&D investment and develop future technologies.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“CEAMS will help us build on the world-leading innovation in sustainable materials already happening in Greater Manchester, translating research into commercial opportunities that bring jobs and investment.

It will also be an important part of the Atom Valley Mayoral Development Zone, where we’re revitalising industry in Rochdale, Oldham and Bury with an advanced manufacturing hub.”

Katherine Bennett CBE, Chief Executive Officer of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult said:

“Resilient supply chains rely on having the right advanced materials for their products and processes. If we can anchor these in the UK, then we can drive industrial transformation and deliver net zero.

“I am delighted to see the launch of CEAMs, which builds on the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) HVM Catapult signed with Innovation Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Combined Authority last year.

Dr. Charlie Whitford, Director of Regional Strategy and Engagement at The Manufacturing Technology Centre, said: “We are excited to be part of this pilot scheme, where we will be helping companies with their digital transformation strategies and capabilities. This way, we’ll enable them to scale up production of their innovative solutions in the most efficient and cost-effective way. In doing so, other manufacturers in the region and beyond can in turn incorporate more sustainable materials into their products.”

Dr Peter Thompson, CEO, National Physical Laboratory (NPL) said, “The Innovation Accelerator is an excellent opportunity to further develop advanced sustainable materials to enable their adoption in industry. The team at NPL will bring their measurement science expertise to the Innovation Accelerator to support both the adoption and the standardisation in this new and developing sector.

This partnership also forms part of the wider commitment NPL has made to the Northwest region and joins other initiatives NPL is leading or involved in such as the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) programme and extensive research collaborations that exist with a number of partners.”

Councillor Danny Meredith, Rochdale councillor said, “Receiving this funding provides incredible opportunities for the businesses and residents of Rochdale. This programme focused on advanced sustainable materials, will complement the work at the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute, AMPI.

“We have an aspiration to create a dedicated advanced materials translational research centre in Atom Valley Mayoral Development Zone working with colleagues in Oldham and Bury. CEAMS is a vital stepping stone in achieving this. This programme ultimately attract further inward investment and therefore jobs into the area”.

Kris Wadrop, Managing Director of Materials at CPI said: “We’re committed to making bright ideas a reality. This is an exciting project and we’re proud to play our part in it. There’s a global need for advanced sustainable materials in manufacturing. This pilot project has the potential to show us the way forward and give businesses confidence that there are ways they can adopt new technologies and set a course for a greener future.

“CPI are looking forward to bringing our expertise to this project and collaborating with some of the very best academics and industry leaders, bringing inward investment to Rochdale and the Greater Manchester region.”

Professor Richard Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement at the University of Manchester said: “The Innovation Accelerator is about taking the great research in GM’s universities, and translating that into good jobs, inclusive economic growth, and better health outcomes for citizens across the whole of Greater Manchester.

“This project highlights the University of Manchester’s research strengths in advanced materials and demonstrates our commitment to working together with business, the other GM universities and FE colleges, and local government for the benefit of the people who live here.”

Mark Summers, Strategic Development Director at the NCC, said: “CEAMS provides a platform to accelerate advanced materials innovation, which will enable the UK to reach its net zero targets and create new capabilities in the Greater Manchester region, attracting industry investment.

“The NCC has extensive experience in translating composite material innovation into industrial application, and we are excited to be working alongside this strong consortium to apply this knowledge.”