Manufacturing Plant banner

Regional Strategy

In the North East there are 130,000 jobs directly associated with manufacturing, 14% of the regional workforce is involved in manufacturing (the highest proportion in the UK), and there are 2,700 SME manufacturing firms in the North East. The North East Independent Economic Review, led by Lord Adonis, set a 2024 target to increase employment in manufacturing by 11%. Indeed AMAP was identified as a specific innovation hub ‘providing facility based solutions for companies looking for innovation as a route to growth' in the NELEPs Strategic Economic Plan.

Roger O’Brien, Director of AMAP, explains:

Photo of Roger O'Brien“Big opportunities exist, we have some great regional success stories and future ones in the making, but we face ongoing regional challenges that have to be addressed around skills, education, productivity and lack of resources [people]. Through AMAP, the University of Sunderland can play a very important role in overcoming some of these challenges. 

The University actively wants to work with industry and that creates an exciting dynamic.  Our vision for AMAP is to inform, inspire and innovate in Advanced manufacturing, which we will achieve by being an innovative, accessible, and outward facing provider of support for industry. This will based upon the application of research and  knowledge of advanced manufacturing regionally, nationally and internationally - adding unique value and excellence to differentiate and enhance the student experience, the Faculty of Technology and the University.

I know and trust we can bring even closer integration between industry, core teaching and research. Research and development are fundamental to business growth, not just in product design, but in the design and manufacturing processes. Research and Development demonstrates to customers that you are a supplier that they should work with, who can offer something different and is open to new ideas. 

Innovation is key, be that in the design of a product, the design of a process, the manufacture itself, or the way of delivering these. It does not always have to be re-inventing the wheel it can be gradually and incremental as a continuous improvement, although occasionally too it is that disruptive innovation that redefines the standards and totally differentiates a product or company. Margins are often very tight in manufacturing, and can be especially low are sectors such as the automotive supply chain, so you need to add value, differentiate and be innovative to keep the success going.

The University of Sunderland has the research capability supported by AMAP, and AMAP also have their network of industrial contacts. AMAP is trusted and respected by suppliers because of its neutral position. Our practice understands industry and we appreciate the challenge of the competitiveness within the supply chain. We are here to support businesses, large and small, by sharing contacts and best practice, providing training and upskilling of the workforce, plus carrying out research and then sharing the findings.

The benefits are clear - shared learning about skills, quality, design, materials manufacturing and maintenance techniques help companies to be more efficient, which means more profit and better products, delivered on time throughout the chain. AMAP’s role is to build networks and engage companies, drawing on support such as knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs), access to research, consultancy, or industrial placements for students. The benefit of this direct link to businesses for AMAP and ultimately the University of Sunderland is that it allows the Faculty to develop programmes and curriculum based on real-world feedback and links with industry.”

This page was published on 1 November 2019