BAE Systems progressing towards development of National Innovations Centres in Belgium

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester and TWI have signed agreements with BAE Systems in support of proposals to develop two National Innovation Centres in Flanders and Wallonia, if Eurofighter Typhoon is selected by the Belgian Government to replace the country’s F-16 fleet, BAE Systems said on January 31, 2018.

BAE Systems progressing towards development of National Innovations Centres in Belgium 640 001 A Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighter jet
(Credit: Eurofighter GmbH)

All three UK-based organisations have a long-standing pedigree in manufacturing and material research, with an international customer base spanning multiple industries. The agreements commit the three organisations’ support in providing expertise to establish the centres and provide opportunities for collaboration once they are up and running.

The agreement also signals a wider appetite for increased cooperation between UK and Belgian academic and research organisations.

Anthony Gregory, Campaign Director for Belgium at BAE Systems, said: “With the support of these key research bodies, we are delighted to sign agreements which form a significant component of our industrial proposal to Belgium. This shows we are fully committed to, and capable of, developing further partnerships with leading organisations in Belgium and delivering long-term, sustainable opportunities for Belgian industry. These centres could also play an essential role in positioning Belgium’s industry for work on future combat aircraft programmes.”

Establishing the centres is an essential part of the Eurofighter Typhoon industrial proposal to further develop Belgium’s world-class defence and aerospace industry. The centres would focus on advanced materials and manufacturing as well as additive layer manufacture. The centres would also promote increased cooperation between industry and academia in both Belgium and the UK, focussing their collective efforts on the future challenges facing the aerospace and defence sector. Technologies developed in the centres could have applications in other industrial sectors, stimulating longer-term growth and expansion of the Innovation Centres.

Professor Martin Schröder, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Manchester, said: “This is an extremely exciting collaboration for the University. Our involvement is a testament to the University’s international reputation and research excellence in aerospace technologies, advanced materials and engineering. Working together with such renowned partners from academia, industry and government confirms our commitment to working in collaboration at the forefront of major international research and development projects.”

Professor Chris Dungey, Director of the Joining 4.0 Innovation Centre at TWI, said: “We are excited to be a key player in helping to create and develop these proposed National Innovation Centres for Belgium. TWI has an excellent track record of working within a pan-European collaborative research environment and we look forward to the potential to work more closely with our Belgian partners in manufacturing R&D.”

Keith Ridgway, founder and Executive Dean of the AMRC, said: “These agreements deepen and extend the research and innovation partnership we have with BAE Systems both here in the Sheffield City Region and at our soon to open AMRC North West, where aerospace and defence are critical to securing sustainable, high-value manufacturing jobs in the UK.

We are an outward looking organisation that would welcome the opportunity to extend our links with research and innovation partners in both Flanders and Wallonia. Britain may have voted for Brexit but the AMRC is keen to collaborate with our European neighbours in ways that are of mutual benefit to our economies and to the security of both the UK and Europe.

BAE Systems is supporting the UK Government in offering the Eurofighter Typhoon as an advanced swing-role, multi-role combat aircraft solution as part of a European offer to Belgium to replace Belgium’s existing fleet of 54 F-16 aircraft.