A contractor has been appointed for the Queen’s University Belfast-led Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC), a £100m Belfast Region City Deal project, with almost £80m coming from the UK Government.
Henry Brothers has won the £30m contract to construct the 10,500m² Factory of the Future building at Global Point Business Park in Newtownabbey.
AMIC will reinvigorate Northern Ireland’s industrial potential and address the future technology and skills challenges faced by the region’s manufacturing sector.
It is being delivered by Queen’s in partnership with Ulster University, industry, and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and supported by the UK Government and NI Executive.
By 2050, it’s estimated that AMIC will have contributed more than £1bn to the local economy, directly and indirectly created over 1,500 permanent jobs and supported the training of 300 apprentices.
Professor Sir Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, said: “Queen’s vision as a civic university and a Belfast Region City Deal partner is to create tangible impact where it truly matters. We are determined to drive societal progress for generations to come through delivering three Innovation Centres in advanced manufacturing, clinical research and secure, connected digital technologies.
“Connecting our underpinning high-quality research with industry, government and the manufacturing sector will turbocharge our region’s capabilities and embed a culture of innovation to act as a driver for increased productivity.
“Our focus is on driving sustainable economic growth to have a positive impact on the lives of people across Northern Ireland.”
Professor Stuart Elborn, Interim Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University, said: “As part of our City Deal programme AMIC will create jobs by supporting local companies to be more competitive on a global scale, attract new investment and ensure that we have the skilled workforce needed for the future.
“Through City Deal we are committed to delivering inclusive growth benefits right across Northern Ireland in terms of productivity, jobs and skills and for the AMIC project we’re delighted to be working with Henry Brothers, a company which shares this ethos.”
Henry Brothers, which is headquartered in Magherafelt, with more than 200 employees based across Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland, has been awarded the construction contract after a competitive tendering process.
Work includes the early contractor involvement process, construction of an engineering hall, a clean room, laboratory spaces, an auditorium and office accommodation as well as external landscaping and mechanical and electrical services.
Planning permission for the building was given in May, and it’s hoped that construction work at the site can start next spring. AMIC plans to be operating from the Factory of the Future by 2026, with capacity for 150 staff, as it delivers for Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector.
David Henry, Managing Director, Henry Brothers, said: “We are pleased to be working with Queen’s University on the new Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, which will provide support for the manufacturing and engineering sectors in Northern Ireland and beyond.
“As one of Northern Ireland’s leading construction companies, we understand how important facilities like these are in addressing the industry-wide skills shortage.
“Having previously delivered the redevelopment of McClay Library and David Bates buildings at the University, we have an established relationship with Queen’s that we look forward to building on.
“Working with the Belfast Region City Deal partners and sharing their vision to create ‘inclusive economic growth that delivers more and better jobs’, Henry Brothers is committed to embedding social value through delivery of this project, with a focus on creating apprenticeship opportunities and providing student placement and professional trainee opportunities, together with delivering paid employment opportunities for those currently facing barriers to employment.”
Mike Brennan, Permanent Secretary of the Department for the Economy, said: “The Department, along with Invest NI, continues to support the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre and we are delighted to see another key implementation milestone being achieved by Queen’s University Belfast.
“The £100m investment shows the commitment that exists within Queen’s and the Belfast Region City Deal to collaborate with industry partners in order to unlock innovation within our region. AMIC will play a key role in the realisation of the 10x vision for our economy, by driving growth through innovation.”
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Mark Cooper BEM, said: “The appointment of a contractor for AMIC is great news bringing the development a step closer. The Council is delighted to support this project with a £10m investment which will see this flagship facility, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, set for Global Point Newtownabbey.
“This state-of-the-art centre will act as a catalyst for advanced manufacturing in our Borough and will further strengthen the Council’s plans to transform Global Point into a world-class hub of advanced manufacturing excellence.”
AMIC is building on 50 years of sustained innovation and industry support through the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC), the Polymers Processing Research Centre (PPRC) and the more recent university-industry partnership, the NI Advanced Composites and Engineering (NIACE).
It will provide a specialised environment for advanced manufacturing, materials, and engineering sectors to access the latest digital, automation and robotics technology supported by experienced engineers.