A new state-of-the-art centre, supporting the development and commercialisation of advanced sustainable materials, will bring high-impact investment to Rochdale and the Greater Manchester city region.

The Centre of Expertise in Advanced Materials and Sustainability (CEAMS) is funded as part of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) Innovation Accelerator programme. It will build on existing capability anchoring strategic businesses to the area.

The programme will be located in Atom Valley which is a vast, dynamic area of 17 million sq ft flexible employment space which, when complete, will offer 20,000 new highly skilled roles within world class businesses. This project is funded by the Greater Manchester Innovation Accelerator programme.

Initially funded as a two-year pilot, CEAMS is led by a consortium of expert partners: Rochdale Development Agency (RDA), University of Manchester (UoM) Henry Royce Institute, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult.

The collaboration will ensure that businesses have a strong support network that will help to anchor their operations to the region.

The programme will build on the existing capability of regional businesses to support the development of advanced sustainable materials. It will address current supply chain gaps in the provision of materials such as polymers, composites, biomaterials, technical textiles and coating, and improve industry’s ability to scale up and adopt sustainable materials in manufacturing applications.

Globally there is a gap in companies able to provide advanced sustainable materials for manufacturing supply chains and a market failure in industry’s ability to scale up and adopt sustainable materials in manufacturing applications.

Led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation, the pilot Innovation Accelerator programme is investing £100m in 26 transformative R&D projects to accelerate the growth of three high-potential innovation clusters – Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and West Midlands. Supporting the Government’s levelling-up agenda, this is a new model of R&D decision-making that empowers local leaders to harness innovation in support of regional economic growth and help attract private R&D investment and develop future technologies.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“CEAMS will help us build on the world leading innovation in sustainable materials already happening in Greater Manchester, translating research into commercial opportunities that bring jobs and investment. It will also be an important part of the Atom Valley Mayoral Development Zone, where we’re revitalising industry in Rochdale, Oldham and Bury with an advanced manufacturing hub.”

Katherine Bennett, chief executive of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: 

“Resilient supply chains rely on having the right advanced materials for their products and processes. If we can anchor these in the UK, then we can drive industrial transformation and deliver net zero. CEAMs builds on the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) HVM Catapult signed with Innovation Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Combined Authority last year.”

Prof Richard Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement at the University of Manchester said:

“The Innovation Accelerator is about taking the great research in GM’s universities, and translating that into good jobs, inclusive economic growth, and better health outcomes for citizens across the whole of Greater Manchester. This project highlights the University of Manchester’s research strengths in advanced materials and demonstrates our commitment to working together with business, the other GM universities and FE colleges, and local government for the benefit of the people who live here.”