Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today announced a major Pound 9million collaborative research and development project for the local aerospace sector.
'Project SCENIC' is a collaboration between The Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) and a consortium of Northern Ireland aerospace sector companies: RLC UK, Moyola Precision Engineering, JW Kane Aerospace UK and Travan Precision Engineering.
Due to complete by 2023, Project SCENIC will address the gap in titanium and hard metal machining by increasing Northern Ireland's capabilities to ensure lightweight technologies meet the increasing use of composite materials in the aerospace sector.
Commenting on the importance of Project SCENIC, the Minister said: "Through this powerful collaboration between industry, government and academia, Project SCENIC will establish Northern Ireland as a globally recognised region in the manufacturing of advanced metallic aerospace components and serve to increase the skills and knowledge of the consortium involved.
"It is projects like this which are playing an important part in helping to drive forward the principles highlighted within the 10X Economic Vision. Northern Ireland has real strengths in the aerospace sector and by focussing on innovation in these areas we will strengthen our ambitions and grow our economy for all."
Invest Northern Ireland has offered Project SCENIC Pound 5million of R&D support, with the remaining Pound 4million offered by the consortium of aerospace companies involved in the project.
Mel Chittock, interim CEO of Invest NI, said:
"To grow our economy, build for the future and ensure that Northern Ireland companies have the right tools in place to increase their global competitiveness, we must support them to innovate and invest in R&D.
"Project SCENIC is one of the largest collaborative R&D projects we have supported and once completed it will give Northern Ireland a strategic advantage and ensure that we are at the forefront of expertise for titanium and hard metal machining within the global aerospace sector."
Head of the Northern Ireland Technology Centre, Colm Higgins, said: "Project SCENIC will give Northern Ireland a strategic advantage and ensure that we are at the forefront of expertise for titanium and hard metal machining within the global aerospace sector. Collaboration with industry will be enhanced further as part of the new Pound 98million state-of-the art Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre. This is one of the three Queen's-led Belfast Region City Deal Innovation Centres, which will be a springboard for manufacturing companies to compete internationally."
Speaking on behalf of the consortium of Northern Ireland companies involved in the project, Engineering Manager of RLC (UK) Ltd and Chair of the SCENIC Steering committee, Chris Beverland, said:
"Since the commencement of the SCENIC project in 2018, through the support of Invest Northern Ireland, it has facilitated the focus on research and development for all the partners. It has enabled the strong collaboration between industrial partners and the Northern Ireland Technology Centre through projects such as improved machining strategies and automation. This collaboration has accelerated the learning process and subsequently the benefits that those improvements have brought. I look forward to continuing to work with Invest Northern Ireland and on the SCENIC project through to its conclusion."
Invest NI's R&D support is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Invest NI is committed to driving innovation in Northern Ireland and is a proud partner of Innovate NI, a Department for the Economy programme, helping local businesses innovate successfully. For further information, visit www.innovateni.com