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Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund (AMCF)

Manufactured parts

@dgcouncil and @scotborders, along with Dumfries and Galloway and @BordersCollege, @SoSEnterprise and key stakeholders, including @skillsdevscot, Dumfries and Galloway Engineering Forum and Scottish Borders Training Association have successfully bid for a funding allocation of £3.3m to deliver the Advancing Innovative Manufacturing in the South of Scotland (AIMS) project.  

This project is for manufacturing SMEs in the South of Scotland and will provide access to advanced manufacturing technologies. The project will focus on supporting SMEs who have potential new products, to help develop them for market, upskilling the workforce, encouraging innovation and attracting new businesses to the region.

This is one of the twelve projects announced on 29th May by Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, being jointly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Scottish Government through the Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund.

Services will include:

  • Training and upskilling the workforce
  • R&D investment/innovation/concept development
  • Product realisation
  • Enabling a manufacturing ecosystem

The project will be delivered through a regional hub and spoke approach aligned with the Skills and Learning Network launched by Dumfries and Galloway and Borders Colleges.  Hosted from The Bridge in Dumfries and linking with the Textiles Centre of Excellence in the Borders, partnership working will be developed through siting the advanced equipment within the hub and spoke arrangements in both colleges.  Additionally, the project will investigate the feasibility of siting equipment within an appropriate host business premises.

Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee, Rob Davidson said: 

“This is the groundwork for the future of many of our area’s SMEs and the start of a brighter economic future through increased manufacturing, on a larger scale, for our region. AIMS will play a central role in our efforts to build a successful, vibrant and diverse manufacturing sector for future generations.

“The award of this funding is a significant milestone, and I look forward to seeing how the new equipment will help companies across the South of Scotland to develop their skills, perfect the latest techniques, and push forward with cutting-edge research.”

Russel Griggs OBE, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) said: 

“The South of Scotland economy is affected by several well-documented challenges brought about by the rural nature of the region and that’s ahead of the immediate challenges we are now facing with the impact of Covid-19.  We are working extremely hard with partners to respond to the immediate challenges but we must also look to the future of our economy.  We have already agreed at our Board to commit up to £1.5m towards this project as it enables open access for SMEs to advanced manufacturing resources within the south of Scotland. This will also support inward investment, inclusive growth as well as develop skills, career paths, and encourage the development of innovation and new ideas by giving SMEs to the latest equipment and software to help them with product testing and development.

“This will add to the investment already made through SOSEP to the development of Digital and Skills Network with the two colleges.  The network is providing new facilities to improve access to digital learning, opening up new opportunities and helping meet the needs of local businesses industry by addressing skills gaps in key sectors.”

Katharine Mathison, Acting Director for Borders College Business Development Unit said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for the College to collaborate with SME’s and other partners in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway to develop a peer network for manufacturing in the South of Scotland. The project focusses on training and upskilling, R&D investment and the development of a manufacturing ecosystem to support innovation and strengthen supply chains.

“The main outcomes of the project are focussed on enabling SMEs to develop low volume, high-value innovative products to make, embed technologies within local businesses and upskill the existing workforce. The information gathering will help to identify relevant existing businesses and will also target entrepreneurs across the South of Scotland.

“In terms of the timeframe for our work to commence, the project has commenced and is in the information gathering stage at present, as it is important to develop a baseline understanding of the skills and equipment currently in place in order to inform the direction of the project going forward. In addition, the project will be recruiting a project manager, project support officer and business facility co-ordinator to drive the project forward and achieve the desired outcomes.”

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