It is hoped that the partnership will help firms, in sector such as pharmaceuticals, food and drink, and chemical products, embrace digitalisation and data-driven manufacturing in the drive towards a net-zero economy.
The organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding, deciding that their first move would be to give the process manufacturing community across the UK the opportunity to upskill through specialist courses set to take place in the autumn delivered through the NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy.
The partners say they are working together on proposals to further support the sector towards digital transformation, including the potential development of a dedicated research centre in Ayrshire, home to GSK, DSM, Booth Welsh and Merck Group.
The partnership brings together two of the seven high-value manufacturing catapult centres, namely the Scottish Government-supported NMIS in Renfrewshire, and CPI, which has facilities across North-east England, to bolster support for manufacturing in Scotland, the wider UK, and beyond.
News of the tie-up comes as efforts continue to create the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC), which sees the CPI and Strathclyde collaborate to ensure the UK is a technology and innovation leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing. The new facility is set to open in Renfrewshire in early 2022, next to the new NMIS HQ.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “This new partnership with North Ayrshire Council, CPI and the [NMIS] will help equip companies and employees to develop the skills they need to fully capitalise on these new complex developments in manufacturing and reap the productivity and economic benefits they can bring.”
NMIS boss John Reid said: “This partnership is the basis for ensuring that the companies within these industries have readily available support to help them reap the benefits of data-driven manufacturing such as an increase in productivity and reduction in waste and carbon.
“Starting with offering courses through our Manufacturing Skills Academy, we are aiming to build a solid foundation to help future proof these key industries.”
Frank Millar is the chief executive of the CPI, which says it “acts as a catalyst bringing together academia, businesses, government and investors to translate bright ideas and research into the marketplace”.
He said the new agreement “will enable the UK process sector to make productivity gains and reduce its carbon footprint, delivering our shared commitment of positive impact for our economy and society”.
The partnership will see North Ayrshire Council gain “support, expertise and influence”, said the organisation’s leader Councillor Joe Cullinane.
“We are extremely keen to establish new anchor institutions within the area, as part of our Community Wealth Building Strategy, to improve the area’s access to academic institutions and to stimulate research and innovation,” he stated.
“Manufacturing jobs make up a higher-than-average proportion of jobs in North Ayrshire. It’s crucial for us to address concerns over regional decline through initiatives such as this.
“I am hoping that this phase marks only the start of a longer-term and more permanent project in Irvine, positioning North Ayrshire as a national hub for adaptation to digital technologies for processing industries.”