Sheffield City Region’s excellence in advanced manufacturing and engineering has been showcased to the world with the official opening of McLaren Automotive’s new Composites Technology Centre – unLTD popped along for the ride.

Sheffield City Region’s ‘transition from traditional steel-based industries into sectors that are high technology and higher value’ has been given the Royal seal of approval after McLaren Automotive’s new Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Crown Prince of Bahrain.

The £50m innovation and manufacturing facility, on the border of Sheffield and Rotherham at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Park, aims to become a world-leader in lightweight carbon fibre and composites technology.

After completing proto-typing, the facility will build McLaren’s lightweight carbon fibre chassis for its new road models from 2020, creating more than 200 jobs and providing an estimated £100 million of GVA (gross value added) benefit to the local economy by 2028.

Sheffield City Region made a financial investment into the project, while partners including the University of Sheffield, Sheffield City Council and Rotherham Council have worked closely with McLaren throughout the process.

Mike Flewitt, CEO at McLaren Automotive, said: “It is an important milestone for us as a ground-breaking, innovative car company and allows us to tap into the great energy, vitality and skills this part of the world has to offer.

“We are proud to be bringing new jobs to the Sheffield region which has a long association with advanced materials; first with steel and now a future to look forward to with carbon fibre innovation and production for McLaren.”

At the event unLTD spoke to some of the high-profile figures attending from across Sheffield City Region and the North who were keen to share their enthusiasm for and excitement about the MCTC with us.

Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis told us: “I think however way you look at this it’s great news for the region. It’s a real sign of confidence that people have. 

“We’ve just got to keep going and keep building on it, but having big companies like McLaren make it much easier.

“It demonstrates that we’re at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing and highly skilled engineering.

“I’m trying to build an inclusive economy that will create rewarding, fulfilling professional opportunities for young people like the ones we’ve got here at this event.

“These businesses will add significant value in their own right but it’s a greater value with them just being here because it enables us to go around the world and say we’ve got McLaren, we’ve got Boeing – come and have a look. I’m really pleased but we’ve got quite a bit more work to do to keep developing it.”

Sarah Want, director of regional engagement and partnerships at The University of Sheffield, told unLTD: “What’s really important is we’ve got this very forward-thinking manufacturing base.

“Everybody knows we make things in Sheffield – that’s what we’re famous for and we’ve made this transition from being based on traditional steel-based industries into industries and sectors that are higher technology and higher value manufacturing sectors.

“The fact that McLaren chose Sheffield as its ideal location for this new facility is just a massive boost of confidence that we’ve made this transition and I think we can all take that as encouragement going forward.” 

Rotherham Council Leader Chris Read said: “It shows how when Rotherham and Sheffield are working together, and working together with the university, public and private sector, you can really achieve things that perhaps people wouldn’t think of associating with a place like Rotherham.

“We’re really pleased with how the economy’s growing and were really getting the fruits of a lot of hard work over a long period of time to create the right environment for inward investment and to create jobs so this is the latest development we’re seeing today.”

Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “It’s about our economy in Sheffield, as our uniqueness is around manufacturing and technology, so McLaren is just saying it’s ready and waiting for further investment. It’s here for jobs, it’s here to aspire young people and most of all it’s here for innovation and creativity around what’s next in the automotive and other industries and sectors.

“The concept of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is that, together with the universities and the supply chain as well, they can develop new technologies not just for the automotive industry but also for other industries that can use the new technology they are developing.”