A CGI of the new centre
Richard Bell

UCLan submits plans for £30m Engineering Innovation Centre

Proposals to create a new state-of-the-art engineering facility in Preston have taken a step closer this week.

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been submitted plans for its £30m Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), a hub that will bring together academia and industry through teaching, research and knowledge exchange.

If planning permission is secured, the new facility will seek to reestablish Lancashire’s role as a centre for advanced manufacturing, shoring up local skills and working to increase the number of women choosing a career in engineering.

The dean of the School of Engineering at UCLan, Rob Wallace, 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.

“Now that the application has been lodged we can really start to look ahead to the EIC and the important role it will play in Lancashire’s economy and the UK’s wider Industrial Strategy.”

He added: “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.”

Serving as the first milestone in UCLan’s £200m Campus Masterplan development, the EIC managed to secure a £10.5m boost via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Lancashire Growth Deal with the government.

The facility received a further £5m injection from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with plans to put the cash towards kitting out the EIC with advanced technology and equipment.

A LEP 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.”

They continued: “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.”

Last year, a new study shed light on the contribution UCLan made to the economy over 2013 and 2014, during which time it spent around £15m with suppliers based across Lancashire and the North West.

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