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2 minute read - 16th November 2023

Work starts on £80m aerospace innovation facility

Construction work has started on a University of Sheffield AMRC innovation facility and research project led by global aerospace company Boeing, which the university says will put South Yorkshire at the forefront of UK aerospace manufacturing.

The COMPASS (composites at speed and scale) research facility will house the Boeing-led IHSS (isothermic high-rate sustainable structures) project dedicated to developing and testing new technologies needed to meet future demand for lighter commercial aircraft and help the aviation industry’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

The £80m investment includes a £29.5m grant from the UK government’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme for the latest, state-of-the-art equipment for the broader benefit of aerospace and other industries; and £20m for the building backed by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Sheffield City Council, University of Sheffield and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

Construction work has begun on an £80m aerospace manufacturing innovation facility in Sheffield / Picture: AMRC

The combined COMPASS facility and IHSS project, announced earlier this year in partnership with Loop Technology and Spirit AeroSystems, is jointly-funded by industry, key stakeholders and the ATI Programme.

The facility will initially create around 50 jobs in South Yorkshire and, based on forecasted aircraft demand, has the potential to create up to 3,000 UK jobs long-term, and around £2bn annually in export opportunities.

Steve Foxley, chief executive officer of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “Today is a very important moment for the AMRC, our partners, funders and the region as we mark the first steps to build our COMPASS facility and deliver on a vision to put South Yorkshire at the forefront of UK aerospace and composites manufacturing research and development. COMPASS shows that collaboration really is the cornerstone of innovation, bringing together the strengths of industry, academia and government to develop production technologies that currently do not exist and turn them into future capabilities that can enable lighter aircraft and more sustainable flight.”

The facility will develop and test new technologies needed to meet future demand for lighter commercial aircraft / Picture: AMRC

Steve Foxley, added: “The facility, and the research that will take place there, provides an exciting opportunity to unlock the economic potential of South Yorkshire, by creating high-skilled jobs, attracting regional investments and adopting world-class technologies to deliver a step-change for advanced manufacturing research in the UK.”

Maria Laine, president of Boeing in the UK, Ireland and Nordic region, said: “Boeing is firmly committed to investing in innovations that help meet future demand for commercial air travel, while also supporting decarbonisation efforts. By harnessing the collective strengths of our local partners alongside the expertise and quality found in the UK’s advanced manufacturing sector, this project will turn ideas into real-world innovations, benefitting the region and also the global aerospace industry.”

The tender for the construction work of the building was awarded to Henry Boot Construction and the facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.

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