Sheffield City Region’s excellence in advanced manufacturing and engineering was showcased to the world today (Wednesday 14 November) with the official opening of McLaren Automotive’s new Composites Technology Centre.
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.
It was officially opened today by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, at an event attended by high-profile figures from across Sheffield City Region and the North.
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.
Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “We know that our region is world-leading in advanced manufacturing and engineering. Investments from companies such as Siemens, Rolls Royce and Boeing are testament to our growing international reputation for excellence.
“So it’s great to see McLaren Automotive also opening here, demonstrating further confidence in our strong manufacturing heritage, confidence in our workforce’s ability to deliver, and confidence in the cutting-edge collaborations between university and business that enable us to lead the world.
“McLaren will also be a key part of our ‘Global Innovation Corridor’, creating a connected set of research and business interactions based on our advanced manufacturing and engineering strengths. The opportunities for our communities, for businesses, for researchers and for the workforce of the future are limitless. Today marks a hugely significant moment for South Yorkshire, the wider Northern Powerhouse, and indeed for the UK.”
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer at McLaren Automotive, praised the Sheffield City Region’s expertise in advanced manufacturing, saying : ““It was an honour for myself and all of the 2,300 people at McLaren Automotive to host The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince of The Kingdom of Bahrain, to officially open the MCTC and to show them the process we are innovating for the production of carbon fibre. They met some of the extraordinary, creative and passionate people we already have working here who are making that ambition a reality.
“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. What goes on here at the MCTC will be vital for our ability to make good on our intention to continue to develop and unveil cars that are lightest in class; itis my belief that Britain – through facilities like this – can become a world leader in lightweight materials technology that will help create more efficient future vehicles.
“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.”
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Professor Koen Lamberts said: “This new centre is a cause for celebration for our region, the North of England and the UK as a whole.
“We are proud that McLaren was attracted to our region by the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC)’s world-leading research, our investments in facilities and our established partnerships with industry. Just yards away from McLaren’s new centre we also have the AMRC Training Centre, which is training McLaren’s first degree apprentices in the Sheffield City Region.
“Offering these specialised apprenticeships is helping to ensure that our region has the right skills and knowledge to drive the manufacturing workforce of the future.”
Keith Ridgway, Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield’s AMRC, said: “It’s great to see McLaren Automotive bringing the production of their supercar bodies to Britain; and even better that they chose to do it here in the Sheffield City Region. The AMRC’s expertise in composites and lightweighting was a critical factor in this great British car maker’s decision to locate their own state-of-the-art factory here in Rotherham.
“Our partnership with McLaren will help develop synergies between future powertrain development and the clever use of lighter materials to save weight and reduce the energy needed to power them. If the UK is to win the weight race, industry and government and universities must continue to work closely to ensure we make the most of what Composites UK estimate to be a £12 billion market by 2030. That’s why we continue to invest significantly in our lightweighting capability.”
Some of McLaren’s latest sportscars and supercars were also in Tudor Square today thanks to local retailer McLaren Leeds, allowing members of the public to see the vehicles up close, while also learning more about the facility opening just a few miles away.
Rotherham Council Leader Chris Read said: “This is further confirmation of the attractive location that Rotherham has become for investors, with McLaren joining a number of significant other inward investments over the last few years. The borough’s Growth Board and Partnership – alongside our colleagues in Sheffield – are working to give businesses the confidence to invest in jobs, homes and developments and it has resulted in Rotherham becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the country.
“More importantly, this investment should give confidence that the next generation of manufacturing can be secured in our part of the world. Today’s Rotherham school pupils are going to grow up to build the next generation of supercars. By creating the right environment for these high skill, high investment businesses, we can ensure that Rotherham will again play an important role in the future of the national economy.”
Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The McLaren brand is renowned for innovation, performance and for being at the cutting edge of technology. It is entirely fitting that they have chosen to base the new Composites Technology Centre at the heart of the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District.
“The opening of the new centre is a fantastic achievement for Sheffield and Rotherham, and our partners who have worked so hard to make this happen. The partnership we have established with the company to deliver this initial investment and to maximise the economic power of it in the future has set the template for future investments.
“I am especially proud that young people from around the region will have the opportunity to work for such a prestigious business and to blaze a trail in advanced manufacturing employment for future generations.
“With McLaren and other recent investments, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District is firmly established as the UK’s centre for innovation and the commercial application of industrial research and development.
“We offer something unique especially by linking our two award-winning universities and leading businesses to create jobs and investment and consolidate our city’s reputation for industry, innovation and excellence. This is a proud day for Sheffield.”
McLaren is the latest in a line of significant international companies to choose to locate in the Sheffield City Region’s growing Global Innovation Corridor.
Focused around SCR’s skills and specialisms, the Global Innovation Corridor will be a global magnet for people, industry and innovators, connecting assets such as the AMRC, the Olympic Legacy Park, the National College for High Speed Rail and Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Our region’s ability to design, develop and distribute innovative solutions, with collaborative partnerships between businesses and Sheffield’s two world-class universities, places us at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.
The investment has also been welcomed by the Government.
Minister for International Investment, Graham Stuart MP, said: “This is great news for jobs and growth in the UK. McLaren represent the best of British engineering and work closely with DIT and the GREAT Britain campaign to promote UK innovation to the world.
“Today’s opening of the £50m McLaren Composites Technology Centre, which will custom innovate and build the next generation of lightweight carbon fibre chassis and create over 200 new jobs, is another a vote of confidence in the UK as a world leading destination for global investment.
“Famed for its traditional industries, the Sheffield region is once again attracting global investment. The city region’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District is a great example of how international investment continues to create jobs and drive prosperity throughout the Northern Powerhouse.”