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Composites Innovation Cluster Celebrates its First Year

07 October 2014

The Composites Innovation Cluster (CiC), which is funded by the UK Government’s advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI), is celebrating its one-year mark.

The CiC comprises of 15 projects with 28 partners and aims to bring academics, suppliers, and primes together with the strategy of the National Composites Centre to support the delivery of a nationally connected network of materials specialists, manufacturing and process businesses, tooling and systems providers.

In its first year, the CiC’ explains its actual programme spend up to 30th July 2014 was £5.5million, with a total grant of £2.8million claimed from AMSCI.

The CiC states one of its key aims is to address the market failures that have led to a shortage in skills and training. Relevant skills and training are needed to support the step change in manufacturing technology required to deliver emergent natural and thermoplastic materials as well as existing carbon-fibre reinforced polymers. The CiC claims AMSCI funding has meant that 15 training courses have been organised to support CiC partner employees with a total of 147 delegates in attendance, covering topics such as Microsoft Project, Resin-Transfer Moulding, The Awareness of Composites plus Abaqus, Thermoplastics, Pamcrash and CATIA.

The CiC state it has created 46 jobs with an additional 13 safeguarded. This means that the programme and the partner companies have already reached a quarter of the CiC’s total goal of 209 jobs. This comes before many of the projects have reached critical stages or begun commercialisation.

Partner companies to the CiC have commented on the first year of involvement with the CiC.

Terry Whitmore, Managing Director of Henniker Scientific said “Our involvement in the CiC has raised our profile within the UK composites community quite significantly. This has generated direct business for us and has also helped us to gain a much better understanding of the specific challenges facing the composites community, enabling us to develop specific plasma treatment processes ahead of our competitors.”

Lyndon Sanders, Director and General Manager, Far-UK Ltd added “Being a part of the CiC has enabled the development of Far-UK Ltd at a faster pace than would have been possible otherwise. We have benefited from the invaluable support and advice of the CiC, which has allowed us to reach out to a wider group of new entrants to the composites industry. Also, we have been able to tap into a wide and diverse supply chain that is enabling us to build better solutions for our customers.”

Finally, Clara Frias, Research Project Manager for the National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility (NCCEF) commented “NCCEF’s partnership with the CiC has greatly improved the visibility of our Accredited Testing House and our services among the UK Composites Supply Chain.  Increasing numbers of companies are contacting us to characterise, improve and certify their products as a result of this heightened visibility. CiC is successfully promoting the need of Certification and Evaluation of composites throughout the UK supply chain and will have a positive impact on the UK Composites Industry.”