South Ayrshire to help build a future for manufacturing
South Ayrshire is set to play a key role in strengthening Scotland's manufacturing industry, having secured £2 million of investment for two significant projects.
South Ayrshire Council, together with its partners Ayrshire College, Ayrshire Engineering Alliance and the University of Strathclyde, has been awarded funding from the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF). AMCF supports projects to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) develop their manufacturing capabilities. A total of £15.8 million has been allocated to 12 projects across universities, colleges, public sector bodies and third sector organisations in Scotland. South Ayrshire Council is one of just three local authorities to secure funds, and the only council to win two bids.
Of the £15.8 million total investment over the next three years (2020-2023), £8.3 million is from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), £590,000 from the Scottish Government, and the remainder in match funding from the chosen projects. All funding is being used to support the creation of a network of initiatives, both regionally-based and across Scotland. This will stimulate the innovation performance of SMEs, by providing free services focused on improving manufacturing capabilities.
In the first of South Ayrshire's projects, just under £1.1 million has been allocated from ERDF and match funding by the Council to develop an Aerospace Digital Visualisation (ADV) Suite, based at the Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre at Ayrshire College's Ayr Campus. The ADV Suite will give SMEs access to innovative manufacturing technology, including cutting edge virtual reality, augmented reality and digital visualisation, to help them enter or expand their presence in the aerospace sector.
The second project has secured almost £900,000 in ERDF and Council match funding to develop a new aerospace and space supply chain programme. This will help companies overcome barriers to entering the aerospace and space sectors, by improving their productivity and competitiveness through innovation and the adoption of manufacturing technologies, as well as identifying supply chain opportunities.
The AMCF funding confirmation followed the Scottish Government's announcement that it is investing a total of £75 million in the development of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), situated within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Renfrewshire, next to Glasgow Airport. Operated by the University of Strathclyde, NMIS is a group of industry-led manufacturing research and development facilities transforming skills, productivity and innovation in Scotland, helping to make the country a global leader in advanced manufacturing. The group includes a flagship facility, which is set to open in 2022 and the existing specialist technology centres: Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre.
South Ayrshire Councillor Brian McGinley, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Culture, commented: "Both NMIS and the AMCF will help Scotland's manufacturing sector to transform skills, productivity and innovation. We are thrilled to be part of this, having won both AMCF bids for our two aerospace projects, especially as we seek to rebuild our local economy after coronavirus (COVID-19).
"The Aerospace Digital Visualisation Suite and Aerospace & Space Supply Chain Programme offer a superb resource to help companies innovate, develop skills and improve productivity. We anticipate both will be operational by the end of 2020 at the very latest, making a significant contribution to Prestwick's aerospace sector and complementing the Ayrshire Growth Deal."
Gavin Murray, Director of Curriculum at Ayrshire College said: "We at Ayrshire College are delighted to be involved in such an exciting project, and have the ADV Suite based within the Aeronautical Engineering Training Centre. We very much look forward to working with our SMEs and aerospace partners in giving them the opportunity to participate in a completely innovative experience. This is a significant investment for Ayrshire and one that will complement and enhance the excellent training we already provide to the sector."
South Ayrshire Council will be the Lead Organisation to deliver on both projects, with the Steering Group also supported by NMIS with colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Strathclyde, Ayrshire College, Ayrshire Engineering Alliance, Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service and Scottish Enterprise.