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New £32m global aerospace technology centre announced for Bristol

6 December 2018

A new world-class hub for innovative aerospace technology is to open in Bristol, thanks to a multi-million investment from GKN Aerospace and the UK Government’s Aerospace Technology Institute.

The Global Technology Centre, funded by a £17m commitment from GKN and £15m from the Government, is expected to open in 2020. Once open the 10,000 square metre facility will host 300 highly skilled engineers, and will include collaborative space for research and development with universities, the UK’s CATAPULT network and GKN Aerospace’s UK supply chain.

The University of Bristol is one of several institutes whose researchers and PhD students will benefit from the opportunities that will emerge once the centre opens. Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research, Nishan Canagarajah, said: "Bristol has worked closely with GKN Aerospace for many years and the announcement of a strategic partnership that is aligned to the Global Technology Centre is a logical next step for both organisations.

“This initiative will reinforce and extend the region's capability in advanced manufacturing and provide an important platform for future growth, both of which are key to realising the UK's Industrial Strategy.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with GKN on an initiative of this scale and we will be working closely with our other partners in the region to maximise the value of this opportunity for the city and region."

The centre will be located in Filton near the Village Hotel Bristol on the A38, and will focus on additive manufacturing (AM), advanced composites, assembly and industry 4.0 processes to enable the high rate production of aircraft structures. The facility will also serve as a base for GKN Aerospace’s technology partnership in the Airbus’ ”Wings of Tomorrow” technology programme as well as new additive manufacturing programmes.

Professor Ben Hicks, Director of Strategic Alliances and Head of Engineering Systems and Design at Bristol, said: "The Global Technology Centre and the strategic partnership represent an exciting opportunity for all of the university faculties from engineering and science to arts, social sciences and law.

“In addressing the digital manufacturing challenges of the future, transdisciplinary teams are necessary to meet the socio-technical challenges and embed new technologies. The Bristol teams involved in the partnership will include traditional materials, design, manufacturing and robotics researchers complemented by data scientists, mathematicians, operations researchers and experts in policy, technology adoption and future workplaces.

“We look forward to working together to benefit the region and continuing to reinforce it as a global centre of excellence in advanced manufacturing and aerospace."

The Bristol centre joins a growing list of GKN Aerospace Centres of Technical Excellence around the world. Each centre has a unique technology focus - covering AM, thermoplastics and smart aero-engine systems - and is supported and linked by a clear digital strategy.

Chief Executive of GKN Aerospace, Hans Büthker, added: “GKN Aerospace can trace its engineering heritage back to the 18th century and we are proud of our role as a leading player in the UK’s world leading aerospace sector.

“The GTC will ensure we continue to develop new technologies that deliver for our customers, making aircraft more sustainable and economical. It will also support our 4,000-strong workforce in the UK, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of the global aerospace industry.

“The GTC is a great example of the UK’s industrial strategy at its best: with industry and the Government coming together to invest in the technology of the future. The GTC will continue to foster such collaboration across the entire UK Aerospace ecosystem and we look forward to working with the British Government in the years to come.’’

Other partners involved in the new GTN include the Additive Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Additive Industries B.V., ANSYS UK Limited, ATS Applied Tech Systems Limited, Centre for Modelling and Simulation, Digital Catapult, Manufacturing Technology Centre, Materialise, National Composites Centre, PXL Realm, Thales UK Limited, University of Bath, and University of Sheffield.

Further information

GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. As a global company serving the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, GKN Aerospace develops, builds and supplies an extensive range of advanced aerospace systems, components and technologies– for use in aircraft ranging from helicopters and business jets to the most used single aisle aircraft and the largest passenger planes in the world. Lightweight composites, additive manufacturing, innovative engine systems and smart transparencies help to reduce emissions and weight on the aircraft and enhance passenger comfort. GKN Aerospace is market leading in aerostructures, engine systems, transparencies and wiring systems and operates in 15 countries at 51 manufacturing locations employing approximately 17,000 people.

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