Sheffield University research centre primed for growth after Boeing unveils huge investment plans

Dennis Muilenburg, chairman of Boeing, Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon and Prime Minister David Cameron at Farnborough Airshow
Dennis Muilenburg, chairman of Boeing, Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon and Prime Minister David Cameron at Farnborough Airshow

A Rotherham research centre is primed for growth after Boeing announced one of its biggest investments in the UK.

The aerospace company is set to create 2,000 jobs, build a £100m support base in Scotland and has promised more work for suppliers and investment in research and development.

Bosses at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre - which was founded in partnership Boeing - hope the announcement will lead to further investment and jobs. The AMRC, part of Sheffield University, helped develop the landing gear for Boeing’s Dreamliner passenger plane.

It is based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham which is also home to a £110m Rolls-Royce turbine blade factory.

Significantly, the announcement included plans for ‘new joint projects with Rolls-Royce on propulsion systems’.

A Boeing spokesman said: “We have 30 locations around the country and several of them are primed for growth. We are proud to have been involved in setting up the AMRC, the partnership is working really well for us.”

Prof Keith Ridgway, CBE, executive dean of the AMRC with Boeing, said: “Boeing’s announcement is great news for the UK’s aerospace sector and organisations like the AMRC. We have high hopes that, as more details are revealed, this will mean further investment and jobs here.

“Boeing was the AMRC’s founding partner and we have a track record of helping its UK suppliers introduce techniques and technologies to enhance their competitiveness and win contracts.

“The announcement also highlights plans to work on joint projects with another of the AMRC’s top tier partners, Rolls-Royce, so that is a double dose of good news

“We believe we are ideally placed to help companies benefit from Boeing’s plans for investment in research and development in the UK by creating new technology and developing advanced manufacturing methods.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I want the UK to continue to be at the forefront of the global aerospace industry, both civil and defence.

“That’s why I’m delighted that we can announce today a long term strategic initiative with Boeing that will create thousands of jobs, secure investment in research and development and create opportunities for the supply chain, as well as delivering on our defence commitments.

“Boeing is one of the world’s most respected aerospace companies. This long term commitment shows the UK is open for business, and attractive for investment.”

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the firm had doubled its UK workforce and more than doubled its annual spending with the UK supply chain over the last five years, to more than 2,000 people and £1.8bn in 2015.

The announcement was expected to result in a further 2,000 new Boeing jobs in the UK, alongside increased capital investment and additional bidding opportunities for UK suppliers.

The shared ambition of the initiative was to enhance competitiveness to create the chance for UK companies to double their supply work with Boeing as production rates were achieved on new and current aircraft programmes, he added.

“Boeing is committed to the UK Government’s prosperity agenda and we share the goals of enhanced economic growth that the Prime Minister has set out to us.”