Construction has started on the flagship National Manufacturing Institute Scotland facility, designed by HLM Architects, at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland in Renfrewshire.


This week, the team from the main contractor, Morrison Construction, began work on the foundations of the building with two piling rigs installing controlled modulus columns into the ground. Since late-October, the team has been working on ground stabilisation activities and bulk earthworks on the 3.5-hectare site next to Glasgow Airport.

By using innovative technologies and materials that have been, or can be, remanufactured and reused, Morrison Construction is working towards ensuring the building will be awarded BREEAM ‘outstanding’ for sustainability – the highest accolade for sustainability in UK construction.

At around 1.5 times the size of Hampden football pitch, the striking, world-class, facility, with its heather façade, is set to be the linchpin for the future of manufacturing in Scotland.

As the HQ of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), the new building will house a fully digitalised factory of the future, skills academy and collaboration hub that will bring manufacturers together to work on the development of innovative new manufacturing technologies and products. It will support manufacturing and engineering firms of all sizes and from all sectors across the country, and internationally, to innovate and grow their businesses in the global market.

NMIS is a group of industry-led manufacturing and engineering research and development facilities operated by the University of Strathclyde and supported by Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council and Renfrewshire Council.

Welcoming the progress being made on site, John Reid, CEO of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to make real progress on the development of our new world-class facility in the space of only a few weeks. Construction starting and the foundations being laid are major milestones in the ongoing development of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) Group.

“It has been a challenging year for many in the manufacturing sector, but for some it has also brought real opportunity. As we look to the future, taking into account the climate emergency and Brexit, as well as the recovery from the pandemic, as a sector it is certain that we will face many more challenges but also, more opportunities will be there for the taking.

“The continual growth of NMIS will ensure manufacturers in Scotland and beyond are able to access the latest technologies and expertise that will help de-risk their innovation efforts and boost the skills of the manufacturing workforce of today and tomorrow. This will enable businesses to make the most of all future opportunities creating a bigger, stronger and more sustainable manufacturing sector.”

Ross Barrett, HLM Project Lead, said: “It is excellent to see work commence on this key new development, which will greatly bolster Scotland’s prominence within the advanced manufacturing sector and make the region a magnet for investment.

“Creating a space that is truly collaborative is at the heart of the design, ensuring that companies, universities and other entrepreneurs will be able to come together and fully harness the power of innovation and creativity. Future building users will also benefit from access to expert services, advanced demonstrator facilities and training programmes focussed on innovative manufacturing. We are excited to see this project progress and look forward to seeing the benefits it will provide to the regional community.”

The news that construction is underway on the NMIS site follows the recent launch of the manufacturing recovery plan developed by the Scottish Government, its enterprise and skills agencies, the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, industry partners, trades unions and academics to support the sector over the next 12 months.

The plan recognises the significant impact coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the manufacturing sector in Scotland and focusses on four priority areas: collaboration and networks, supply chains and competitiveness, adaptation and transformation, and skills and workforce.

The proposals to secure a strong, sustainable future for the manufacturing sector are available for consultation until 15 January 2021. Manufacturers are encouraged to provide feedback on the plans, with more information available online.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Our £75 million investment in NMIS will support innovation and our wider ambitions for Scotland’s manufacturing sector as a global leader.

“The draft manufacturing recovery plan sets out a bold agenda, building on strong foundations to take advantage of new opportunities in technology, digital and green innovation. By maximising the contribution of manufacturing industries we can make stronger progress towards net zero while also creating opportunities to innovate and create new jobs.”

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