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UK Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, has announced £22million worth of government funding to further advance the development of composite materials.
The announcement was made during a visit to Williams Formula One’s Oxfordshire base, where Lord Mandleson was able to launch the investment and publish the Government’s new Composite Strategy.
According to the UK Composite Strategy document, the high-value composites market is currently worth around £1 billion to the British economy. Projected figures suggest that by 2020, the UK’s offshore composite wind turbine blade and aerospace wing market could alone be worth £22 billion.
The £22million investment is made up of:
▪ £16m for a new National Composites Centre in the Bristol area (£12m from central Government, £4m from the South West Regional Development Agency)
▪ £5m for the winning firm’s to develop new composites manufacturing techniques (to be won via the Technology Strategy Board’s new ‘Grand Challenge’ competition, launched today) and £1m upfront funding to help develop challenge bids.
The NCC, expected to be fully operational by April 2011, is seen as a significant development by locally based GKN Aerospace. “”We were a founding member of the UK’s National Composites Network, launched in 2005 and are fully committed to the Government’s National Composites Strategy,” says Marcus Bryson, Chief Executive Officer, GKN Aerospace. “This new Centre in the South West will be a key facility in enabling UK manufacturing as a whole to develop new composite material applications and to extend our expertise in an area that is a critical UK manufacturing skill for the future.””
“Any modern economy is built on the ability to exploit the opportunities on offer by new and existing high value markets – such as composites.Our approach is now to back areas of the economy which have the biggest potential to create wealth and jobs and take advantage of the skills of our people,” said Lord Mandleson on the initiative.
“Today’s new strategy will help us to exploit the potential of composite materials which could help us lower carbon emissions, make cost savings by making things which last longer and boost our position globally making the UK the place to produce and develop composites. Government has an irreplaceable role in ensuring that the right conditions are in place to support long term growth. This means investing in the country’s high-tech low carbon future including supporting and investing composites,” added Lord Mandleson.
The NCC will be a purpose-built 6,000m2 facility and will include workshop space, open-plan offices, meeting rooms and teaching facilities.
The new Composites Strategy explains how Government plans to support British firms involved in manufacturing, utilising and exporting composites and composite technology, with the aim of maintaining the UK’s global lead in this growth field.
NetComposites acted as consultants to BIS, preparing The UK Carbon Fibre Composites Industry profile, which is available to download here – http://www.bis.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/publications/Composites-Carbon-Fibre-Study.pdf
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