Government Minister Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, officially opened the £25m National Composites Centre (NCC) in Emersons Green earlier today (Thursday 24th November).
The NCC is a new 8,500 sqm state-of-the-art building that brings together dynamic companies and enterprising academics to develop new technologies for the design and rapid manufacture of high-quality composite products.
Composite materials, such as carbon fibre, are finding increasing use in fields as diverse as aerospace, wind turbines and electric vehicles and the NCC aims to capitalise on the research and manufacturing expertise already built up in the field of composites development within the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area.
Speaking to more than 200 guests at today’s official opening, Dr Cable said:
“Here in the UK we are very good at invention, but we need to do more to innovate and turn our ideas into products and jobs. I don’t want the UK to miss out on any opportunities to create economic growth through manufacturing.”
“This centre will work with our world class universities and international businesses based in the South West and across the UK, to develop and commercialise new technologies. Its work will strengthen our manufacturing sector, exploiting the next generation of advanced composites materials and helping maintain our global lead in this technology area. I look forward to seeing what they produce.”
After the formalities, Dr Cable was shown around the centre and saw state-of-the-art machinery, including a world-leading £2.5m robotic, automatic fibre placement. He also met some of the highly skilled engineers that will assist UK manufacturers to develop and commercialise new technologies and products.
The event was accompanied by an exhibition by the NCC’s members showing what composite technology can do across a wide range of industries. An innovative electric car built with a composite body, tidal turbine blades and new aircraft wing components were amongst a range of items that showcased the potential applications of the latest composite technology.
‘Tier 1’ members of the NCC – AugustaWestland, Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, Umeco and Vestas – have committed almost £5.5m of work over the next three years. Together with contributions from small and medium sized enterprises, the centre says it expects to attract £5m of work from industry in this year alone.
The NCC is hosted and owned by the University of Bristol. It is run by a Steering Board comprising the university and the centre’s ‘tier 1’ members.
Professor Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Bristol, added:
“The NCC is a stand out exemplar of the application of world-leading academic research underpinning open innovation between and across industry sectors. The University of Bristol is proud to play a pivotal role in hosting this exciting venture and we look forward to the NCC achieving great things for the UK and for composites globally.”