£1.7m engineering design academy launched

Lancaster University has launched a £1.7m Engineering Design Academy which will help boost the performance of more than 128 small and medium-sized enterprises and bolster the North West’s engineering skills-base.

MS JILL JENNINGSThe academy will safeguard 90 jobs and help to create an additional 43 jobs in the region.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with matched funding from Lancaster University as well as from private sector partners, the academy will use research expertise in the Engineering Department to support businesses, with a particular focus on advanced manufacturing.

In addition to bringing significant benefits to North West SMEs, the academy will also increase the employability of Lancaster University students and help to plug skills gaps in the region’s engineering sector.

Dr Allan Rennie, Head of the Lancaster Product Development Unit within Lancaster University’s Engineering Department, said: “The academy provides a great opportunity for businesses to work with the outstanding engineering talent at Lancaster University.

“Our students and academics possess a wide range of both technical and non-technical skills, providing the region’s SMEs with the necessary support to realise growth.”

The academy, which is funded until June 2015, is the latest SME collaborative project in the 12-year history of the Lancaster Product Development Unit and adds to the growing number of projects and programmes run by Lancaster University to support SMEs.

Professor Andrew Atherton, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University, said: “Lancaster University was recently recognised as being among the top ten of UK universities for working with SMEs. The launch of the Engineering Design Academy is a further demonstration of our focus and commitment to working with businesses and adds to our other extensive ongoing engagement programmes that cut across many business sectors.”

Businesses can benefit from the academy in a range of ways such as accessing students, graduates, engineers, as well as facilities and equipment. The academy is a resource available for growth-hungry SMEs who have received less than €200,000 of public funding within the last three financial years and that are based in Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester or Lancashire.