The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is a step closer to establishing itself as a leader in engineering innovation through the creation of a new state-of-the-art facility in Preston.
A planning application has been submitted for UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), a £30 million integrated hub for teaching, research and knowledge exchange which will bring together the region’s expertise from within academia and industry.
The flagship project will deliver a range of key objectives, including reclaiming Lancashire’s role as a national centre for advanced manufacturing, ensuring that local skills reflect social and economic needs, and increasing the number of females in engineering careers.
UCLan’s Rob Wallace, Dean, School of Engineering, said: “This outline planning application sets out the University’s ambitious and exciting vision to boost levels of innovation through increased knowledge and industry partnerships, both nationally and internationally.
“UCLan aims to close the skills gap by inspiring and shaping the next generation of engineering leaders, producing an extra 500 locally trained graduates a year and increasing the number of young people and, in particular, the proportion of females who choose to take up engineering at a local university.”
A Lancashire Enterprise spokesperson said: “Lancashire is a national centre of excellence in the advanced manufacturing and aerospace sectors and we are home to many world-class companies such as BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and PACCAR (Leyland Trucks), to name just a few. Lancashire also has top-class universities.
“Through our Innovation Excellence Programme, the LEP is building on these strengths by bringing our academic talent together with business and industry to create the innovation and skills solutions needed to maintain and develop our number one position for advanced manufacturing and aerospace.
“The LEP has supported the new Engineering Centre at UCLan as part of that programme. This flagship project will help produce the engineers our advanced manufacturing and aerospace sectors need to thrive and support businesses and industry to achieve even higher levels of excellence.
“This is another example of how the LEP is investing in improving skills and innovation in key sectors of the economy as part of our ambitious strategic plan to achieve transformational change and grow the county’s economy by £3bn over the next decade.”
The EIC, which is the first major milestone in UCLan’s £200 million Campus Masterplan, has been identified as a signature project within Lancashire’s Strategic Economic Plan and has secured £10.5 million via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Lancashire ‘Growth Deal’ with Government.
It received a further £5 million cash injection from HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) which will go towards equipping the facility to the highest standard with advanced technology and specialist equipment.
UCLan has completed an extensive consultation exercise with local residents, businesses, and University staff and students to gather views on the proposed EIC, which is earmarked for completion in summer 2018.