(Picture: Staffordshire University)

Staffordshire University are set to launch a new specialist centre for advanced materials, following a successful bid for University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) status and funding.

Staffordshire University are investing £1.5 million into a new state-of-art advanced materials facility. To launch the project, the university will receive a £800,000 grant from Research England - that will be match-funded by Staffordshire University - to establish the Staffordshire Advanced Materials Incubation and Accelerator Centre (SAMIAC), a facility that will offer dedicated innovation support to the ceramics industry and other manufacturing areas (including energy generation, aerospace and automotive sectors).

Chris Skidmore, UK Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said:

“Many of Staffordshire’s research community are right on the precipice of turning ground-breaking ideas into real products and services, which could change the lives not just of people in the local community, but people around the world.

“Today’s funding will not only help local scientists take their ideas from lab to market, but will also support an enterprise hub at Staffordshire University. Providing space for local businesses to forge crucial partnerships, the UEZs will create jobs, drive local growth and provide SMEs with a vital steppingstone to succeed.”

Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University, commented:

“Twenty per cent of jobs nationally in applied materials are based here in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and, as such, there’s a need for dedicated space and facilities to work on innovation projects to support development and growth in our region.

“Research and innovation have a crucial role to play in the future of manufacturing, and this will recognise the University as having an advanced material specialism. This will lead to more high-value and graduate jobs, and address some of the challenges experienced in our area, where 10 per cent of our business base is manufacturing.”

The development comprises of incubation space, as well as research, prototype and innovation lab space. The facility will sit alongside the University’s SmartZone – a £1.3m facility that opened to students last week, and which combines state-of-the-art fabrication spaces with new-age augmented and blended reality facilities.

Professor Jones added:

“This will be a regional flagship bringing together academics, researchers, companies and facilities under one roof, connecting potential with expertise, problems with solutions, and students with future careers.”

The announcement is yet more positive news for Staffordshire University, following reports that university had climbed four places on the The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, as well as being shortlisted for 'University of the Year'.

The bid for Research England Development (RED) funding was supported by a range of partners, including Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce; the Applied Material, Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Centre (AMRICC); Stoke-on-Trent City Council; the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Edited by Josh Heath