The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has awarded the contract for the build of its new flagship facility at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland in Renfrewshire to Morrison Construction, part of the Galliford Try Group.

The contract, worth around £42 million, was awarded after the University of Strathclyde, as the operator of NMIS, approached the market with an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) restricted tender process. The process saw the Scottish construction firm prove to be the most economically advantageous in terms of both cost and quality.

As part of the contract, Morrison Construction is committed to achieving the design team’s aspirations of the building being awarded BREEAM ‘outstanding’ for sustainability – the highest-accolade for sustainability in the UK construction industry.

To help achieve this, the team will be using innovative technologies, an outstanding knowledge of building products and embracing the circular economy by using materials that have been, or can be, remanufactured and reused where possible. There will be an avoidance of the most polluting materials such as concrete and other quarried aggregates and where possible, the use of materials that are manufactured overseas will be designed out.

At around 1.5 times the size of Hampden football pitch, the striking, world-class, facility, which is being developed next to Glasgow Airport, within Netherton Campus, is set to be the linchpin for the future of manufacturing in Scotland.

It 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. NMIS is set to transform skills, productivity and innovation in Scotland by strengthening links between industry, academia and the public sector.

Morrison Construction works towards the Scottish Government’s Fair Work First action plan, tackling the gender pay gap, limiting the use of unnecessary zero-hours contracts and investing in nurturing talent. The contractor is also an accredited Real Living Wage employer and has committed to deliver over 164 community benefits as part of the build project. These benefits include site visits to local schools and higher and further education providers, work experience placements, student mentoring, internships and targeted recruitment around apprenticeships.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Like many parts of the economy, manufacturing has been adversely affected by the impact of COVID-19. But the crisis has also demonstrated why we need a strong manufacturing sector, with many companies contributing to the national effort by re-purposing or scaling-up their activity to supply vital equipment to health and social care, something NMIS has been involved in supporting.

“NMIS will play a central role in our efforts to build a successful, vibrant and diverse manufacturing sector for future generations. The award of this contract is a significant milestone, and I look forward to seeing how the new facility will help companies across Scotland to develop their skills, perfect the latest techniques, and push forward with cutting-edge research.”

Welcoming the contract award, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said:

“Completing the rigorous tender process and appointing Morrison Construction to build the flagship National Manufacturing Institute Scotland facility is a highly significant step forward in the ongoing development of the NMIS group of world-class industrial research facilities.

“As the anchor University for NMIS, Strathclyde continues to work in close partnership with industrial, academic and public sector partners. Together we are making great strides towards creating the future of advanced manufacturing in Scotland, applying leading research capabilities to drive industrial innovation and supporting the country’s talented manufacturing and engineering sector.”

The announcement of the construction contract award comes just days after NMIS announced the appointment of John Reid as CEO. It also follows the signing of the grant-funding agreement between University of Strathclyde and Scottish Enterprise for the operating of NMIS and the completion of the land lease agreement for the site between the University and Renfrewshire Council.

The build is expected to commence as soon as possible after current guidance around non-essential construction work is revised. It is expected to be completed around 18 months after build work commences.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “It is excellent news to see the appointment of the construction contract for the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, delivering a high-quality, sustainable facility for manufacturers of all shapes and sizes, together with their employees, to access its expertise, innovate and develop their skills and knowledge.

“Manufacturing is a significant sector in Renfrewshire and I am proud that through development of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS), Renfrewshire is at the centre of Scotland’s manufacturing future, which will play an integral role in the local and national economic recovery.”

Eddie Robertson, Managing Director of Morrison Construction Central, commented: “We are delighted to be working once more with our partners at the University of Strathclyde to deliver this important facility. It is always a privilege to be involved with a scheme such as this one that will transform manufacturing as we know it in Scotland.”

Ross Barrett, Associate at Glasgow-based HLM Architects, and lead on the NMIS design team said: “We are pleased that the significant stage of appointing a contractor for this landmark new facility has been reached and that construction is now able to advance to the next phase. Once built, this new hub, which is designed to be energy carbon neutral, will be a welcome boost to the region’s manufacturing industry, providing a state-of-the-art facility where creativity and innovation can thrive for its users.”

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News