Swansea Uni given £35 million to develop advanced innovation hub

Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford has announced a £35 million investment to construct, equip and operate a state-of-the-art innovation hub at Swansea University Bay Campus.

This investment will be used to develop a facility to drive forward research in the advanced engineering sector and to turn Swansea Bay into a centre of innovation.

A staggering £17.4 million of EU funding is being allocated to the university to establish the IMPACT (Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical) centre.

The hub will also boast laboratory and office space as part of the College of Engineering, and it’ll bring together experts to lead ground-breaking science and technology projects.

There’ll be a focus on growing and future-proofing business opportunities in the advanced engineering and materials sector, helping to put Swansea’s tech scene on the map.

It’ll include a metals technology centre, too. Scientists will undertake research into metallurgy and materials science, while forging partnerships with companies right around the world.

On the announcement, the university said “The aim is to pioneer new alloys, materials and metal manufacturing processes which can be used in engineering”.

Expected to open at some point in 2019, the hub will be an employment boost for the local economy. It’ll attract 65 academic posts and 155 experienced researchers.

Professor Drakeford said: “EU funding is playing a vital role in the establishment of this centre of excellence, which will help drive new, innovative technologies in the engineering sector in Wales.”

IMPACT will specialise in next generation manufacturing processes as well. These include robotics, automation, advanced aerospace and automotive structures.

The building itself is to be built to the BREEAM Excellent standard, incorporating bird habitats, solar panels, onsite bio-diversity and support for the local supply chain.

Professor Richard B. Davies, vice chancellor of Swansea University, said:  “We welcome the EU funding for this major new resource at the Bay Campus.

“IMPACT will operate as a semi-independent research institute with objectives determined by a scientific board and advised on by external academic, governmental and industrial stakeholders.

“It is set to deliver a transformative, sustainable and laboratory future-proofed engineering research environment, aligning world-class technology development and delivery with collaboration between academia and industry.”

Image credit: Margaret Darms