The University of Sunderland has secured £5.1m to deliver its Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing project, which is set to create jobs and unlock growth in the region.

The pioneering scheme will enable the region’s manufacturing base of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be more productive and sustainable by finding solutions to their research, innovation and development challenges and helping them to develop their products, processes and technology.

The University of Sunderland has received £2.6m from the European Regional Development Fund towards the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing project, with additional contributions from industry and the University.

The project will deliver innovation support to manufacturing companies in the North East by:

– Working closely with companies across the entire advanced manufacturing spectrum to establish where innovation is most urgently needed

– Developing new products that enable further scale-up into national supply chains and export markets

– Addressing key challenges in manufacturing process innovation through collaboration within smart specialisation areas – using larger regional companies to initiate opportunities for collaborative projects with the potential to open up new markets and business opportunities for regional SMEs

– Connecting SMEs to specialist staff and academics that will undertake needs analysis, knowledge or technology transfer, collaborative research and validate new technologies

– Enhancing the innovation capacity of businesses by providing networks, infrastructure and shared facilities that enable effective collaboration, as well as provide access to platforms for testing, developing and validating new technologies.

The project will have a significant emphasis on sustainability and digital manufacturing.

In addition to providing access to the University’s facilities and expertise, the project will enable access to its wide range of academic, research and technical networks.

University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor, Shirley Atkinson, commented: “Through the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing project our University’s highly experienced engineering team will support SMEs with research and help to develop solutions to the challenges and barriers they face.

“This project is the next step towards realising our ambition to be the North East’s lead university for Advanced Manufacturing and we’re excited to get started on unlocking the region’s latent growth potential.

“By placing our University at the forefront of SME research and development we will not only enable these businesses to grow and unlock opportunities, we will also help improve the sector’s productivity and sustainability as well as create opportunities for our students and graduates.

“The University is now adding to its excellent team of staff involved in applied research in the Faculty of Technology to ensure we are best able to support our industry partners.

“Maximizing the benefit of innovations in the automotive, engineering and computing sectors to ensure the region remains competitive and world leading, is key to our future plans.”

Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project Manager, Claire Defty, added: “My role is to engage with the North East LEP area’s SMEs and encourage them to apply for grants and work with the University to develop solutions and research that will help to move their business to the next level.

“With colleagues in the School of Engineering and at AMAP on board we have a ‘best in class’ research team on hand.

“We’re looking forward to supporting SMEs with overcoming blocks to growth that they are facing, whether that’s in automation, additive or digital manufacturing, Industry 4.0 or joining / assembly processes.

“My message is simple – get in touch, we have funding and expertise you can access to help you develop your manufacturing business.”

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