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New partnership set to future-proof process manufacturing in Scotland

31 August 2021

The University of Strathclyde, the operator of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), has announced that it’s forming a partnership with North Ayrshire Council and CPI to help future-proof key process manufacturing industries, such as pharmaceuticals, food and drink and chemical products.

The partnership will help firms embrace digitalisation and data-driven manufacturing in the drive towards a net-zero economy.

After signing a memorandum of understanding, the organisations stated that the first action deriving from the partnership will be to give the process manufacturing community, across the UK, the opportunity to upskill through a series of specialist courses set to take place in autumn delivered through the NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy. 

With big ambitions for the future, the partners are working together on proposals to further support the sector in their journey towards digital transformation. These proposals include the potential development of a dedicated research centre in the Ayrshire area, home to GSK, DSM, Booth Welsh and Merck Group.

The partnership brings together two of the seven High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres, Scottish Government supported NMIS in Renfrewshire and CPI, which has facilities across the North East of England, to further bolster the support for manufacturing in Scotland, the wider UK and beyond. 

This announcement follows on from the success of the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, a collaboration between government, industry and academia, which sees CPI and Strathclyde work together to ensure the UK is a technology and innovation leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing. This new facility is set to open in Renfrewshire in early 2022, next to the new NMIS HQ facility, as part of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland. 

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “Digitalisation and data-driven manufacturing sit at the heart of Industry 4.0. 

“This new partnership with North Ayrshire Council, CPI and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland will help equip companies and employees to develop the skills they need to fully capitalise on these new complex developments in manufacturing and reap the productivity and economic benefits they can bring.”

Commenting on the partnership, John Reid, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland said: “The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland is transforming manufacturing across Scotland, the UK and beyond. The industries that make up the process manufacturing sector are of crucial importance to the country’s future economic prosperity, particularly as we tackle the climate emergency and recover from the pandemic. 

“This partnership is the basis for ensuring that the companies within these industries have readily available support to help them reap the benefits of data-driven manufacturing such as an increase in productivity and reduction in waste and carbon.

“Starting with offering courses through our Manufacturing Skills Academy, we are aiming to build a solid foundation to help future-proof these key industries.”   

Frank Millar, CEO of CPI said: “We're delighted to be partnering with NMIS and North Ayrshire Council to support companies in the process industry as they adopt digital manufacturing technologies and upskill their workforce to increase their competitive position. 

“This partnership will enable the UK process sector to make productivity gains and reduce its carbon footprint, delivering our shared commitment of positive impact for our economy and society. We bring our expertise in accelerating innovation in the process industries to this partnership, building on our existing relationships in Scotland, through the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre.”

Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are delighted to be forming this partnership that will provide us with support, expertise and influence.

“We are extremely keen to establish new anchor institutions within the area, as part of our Community Wealth Building Strategy, to improve the area’s access to academic institutions and to stimulate research and innovation. 

“Manufacturing jobs make up a higher than average proportion of jobs in North Ayrshire. It’s crucial for us to address concerns over regional decline through initiatives such as this. We also see this as having future potential for sustainable employment opportunities for our young people.

“The combined aims of this project, to improve digital skills and reduce the use of carbon in manufacturing is greatly welcomed by the Council and supports our new Green Deal and ambitions of being net-zero by 2030.

“I am hoping that this phase marks only the start of a longer term and more permanent project in Irvine, positioning North Ayrshire as a national hub for adaptation to digital technologies for processing industries.”


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