A new £90m facility will ‘pave the way’ for the future of advanced manufacturing in Scotland as it opened its doors for the first time yesterday.

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) will aim to equip the next generation of manufacturing students with the skills to thrive in a 21st century industry.

First Minister Humza Yousaf launched the Renfrewshire hub yesterday at the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), which will be operated by the University of Strathclyde.

The distinctive heather-coloured, 11,500m2 operationally carbon neutral campus next to Glasgow Airport will support manufacturing, engineering and associated technology businesses of all sizes.

Innovative R&D will help them to become more productive, tap into emerging markets, embrace new technologies, and achieve net-zero targets.

Scotland’s manufacturing sector employs over 179,000 people and is responsible for more than 50 per cent of the country’s international exports and 47 per cent of business expenditure on R&D.

The new facility will be home to the NMIS Manufacturing Skills Academy, fully connected Digital Factory, and publicly accessible collaboration hub. The Lightweight Manufacturing Centre (LMC) – which is also part of the NMIS group – will relocate from its current base in Renfrewshire, splitting its operations between the new building and NMIS’s founding centre the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC).

Featuring a variety of technology zones dedicated to growth areas, the NMIS Digital Factory will include a food and drink cyber-physical demonstrator, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connected shop floor, a factory command centre, and a hub dedicated to helping manufacturers embrace the circular economy and extend the life of their products and systems.

The factory demonstrates the vast potential of digital technologies in helping manufacturers improve their products and processes in the drive towards a net-zero economy, while still increasing productivity.

The building was opened by Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf at a ceremony this morning alongside NMIS CEO Chris Courtney; Professor Sir Jim McDonald, chair of the NMIS board and principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde; Katherine Bennett, CEO of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult; and Adrian Gillespie, CEO of Scottish Enterprise, along with senior delegates from across industry, academia, and the public sector.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The opening of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is an exciting moment – it will ensure that Scotland’s long history of innovation and engineering continues, and also supports our drive to net zero. 

“Scotland is one of the most innovative nations in the world. By bringing together research, industry and the public sector, this facility will allow companies of all sizes to embrace creative manufacturing techniques and support cutting-edge research. Manufacturing is critical to our long-term economic recovery and this centre, which the Scottish Government provided funding of £75 million towards, will support that. 

“Today we are publishing the first annual progress report on our National Strategy for Economic Transformation. NMIS is a tangible example of the partnership working it promotes, showing our commitment to delivering for both business and people.”

Since 2019, NMIS has helped deliver more than 150 research and development projects for 142 different customers and partners. It has already upskilled and reskilled more than 1,300 people, placed more than 80 graduate trainees in Scottish manufacturing, and supported more than 100 internships. 

Chris Courtney, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), said: “A facility of this scale and ambition doesn’t happen by chance. Thank you to our colleagues and partners, who have worked together tirelessly for many years to make it a reality. It’s been a truly collaborative effort – from creating a shared vision of NMIS to delivering our world-class new building. 

“We now move into a phase of delivering on those ambitions through intense collaboration with industry and providing innovative solutions to their most challenging problems. Scotland has a strong manufacturing sector – supporting world-renowned capabilities in the maritime industry, renewable energies, food and drink, the satellites and space industry and many others. We also benefit from world-leading universities and a growing number of ambitious technology entrepreneurs.”

The facility was built by Morrison Construction, part of the Galliford Try Group, and designed by Glasgow-based HLM Architects. It features clean and innovative low-carbon solutions to mitigate its impact on the environment, including a large-scale rooftop solar array for electricity generation, access to a state-of-the-art low-carbon district heating network, and rainwater harvesting system.