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2 minute read - 13th June 2024

Work starts on Northern Ireland’s ‘factory of the future’

Construction has started on a new state-of-the-art ‘factory of the future’ at Global Point Business Park in Newtownabbey.

Through a £100m investment, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC), led by Queen’s University Belfast, is expected to create up to 1,500 jobs across Northern Ireland, contribute £1bn to the economy and train 300 apprentices by 2050.

Due to open in 2026, the 10,000m² open access manufacturing and engineering innovation centre, with capacity for 150 staff, is being built by Henry Brothers. It is set to reinvigorate local industrial potential and address the future technology and skills challenges faced by the region’s manufacturing sector. AMIC will provide a specialised environment for advanced manufacturing, materials, and engineering sectors to access the latest digital, automation and robotics technology, supported by engineers and underpinned by academic excellence.

The project is being delivered in partnership with industry, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, and Ulster University, as part of a wider £230m transformational programme of innovation led by Queen’s and supported by the UK government and Northern Ireland Executive through Belfast Region City Deal. Almost £80m of funding for AMIC has come from the City Deal.

Construction work has started on the £100m Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre in Northern Ireland, a state-of-the-art factory of the future to support local industrial potential / Picture: AMIC/Queen’s University Belfast

Following a recent recruitment campaign, AMIC has grown its team of engineers and support staff to over 50, to increase delivery of digitalisation and innovation projects for local manufacturing companies across a range of sectors. This work builds on more than 55 years of Queen’s delivering industry-focused innovation through the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC), Polymers Processing Research Centre (PPRC) and Northern Ireland Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE).

The innovation centre recently received Full Business Case approval from government, signalling confidence that AMIC can deliver on time and to budget following a rigorous specialist and peer-reviewed process.

Queen’s vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Ian Greer, said: “It’s wonderful to mark this major milestone for AMIC starting construction at the state-of-the-art factory of the future. This is a tangible mark of progress which leads the way to an exciting future for manufacturing in Northern Ireland. We are harnessing huge opportunities through collaboration with industry, government and communities through AMIC and our two other transformational Queen’s-led innovation centres, Momentum One Zero and iREACH Health, as part of a £230m programme which will bring lasting economic and social benefits to the people of Northern Ireland and beyond.”

Sam Turner, CEO of AMIC, added: “AMIC is already live and supporting economic growth and prosperity for Northern IreIand by creating high quality jobs and increasing inward investment through high value manufacturing innovation clusters. With core capabilities in digitalising manufacturing, smart design, sustainable polymers and composites, and smart nanotech we are working with local businesses across the region to address technology and skills challenges. It’s fantastic to see construction start on the factory of the future which will enable us to further drive industrial transformation, paving the way for future technologies and competing globally with a more sustainable focus.”

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