UCLan’s £35m Engineering Innovation Centre set to drive region’s industrial strategy

Source: University of Central Lancashire 18 October 2019
Working on the Shell Eco Marathon car in the Motorsports and Air Vehicle Suite

A £35 million state-of-the-art teaching and research facility which engages directly with industry and provides students with real-world experience on live, engineering-related projects has been officially launched at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Based at the University’s Preston campus, the new Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) will act as one of the driving forces behind the Lancashire Industrial Strategy as well as national industrial strategy, addressing the need for innovation and producing the next generation of world-class engineers.

Cutting-edge research and teaching facilities include an additive manufacturing lab (3D printing), an advanced manufacturing workshop, an intelligent systems facility, a motorsports and air vehicles lab, a high-performance computing lab, a flight simulator suite as well as a fire, oil and gas facility.

To date, the EIC is the largest single investment in Lancashire’s educational infrastructure establishing UCLan as one of the UK’s leading universities for engineering innovation.

Through courses shaped by industry demand and continuous collaboration, the Centre aims to improve productivity across the North West, helping to support the innovation needs of 1,300 regional small and medium enterprises now and in the future.

Experienced how the EIC is helping to turn life changing ideas into reality. Burnley-based Krystyna Marshall, 16, invented the designs for an exoskeleton to support a young family member with a life-altering spinal condition. Working in collaboration with Krystyna, the University EIC team of academic staff and students have turned the exoskeleton designs into reality. The cost-effective 3D printed version of the exoskeleton is now being used as a proof of concept and could be developed for NHS use in the future.

Working on the Exo-Skeleton project in the Additive Manufacturing Lab

Identified as a signature project within Lancashire’s Strategic Economic Plan, the EIC secured £10.5 million worth of funding via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnerships’ Growth Deal with the Government. The new facility has also received £5.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5 million from HEFCE’s STEM Capital Fund.

The EIC forms part of the University’s £200 million Masterplan, which also includes a new student support centre, improvements to the public realm and highways around the Adelphi roundabout as well as new social spaces facilities and a new multi-faith centre, all at the Preston campus.

Working in partnership together, SimpsonHaugh and Reiach and Hall Architects designed the EIC, which was built by main contractor, BAM Construction.

Professor Graham Baldwin, Vice-Chancellor at UCLan, said: “The provision of practice-based learning has always been a strength of this University and now, through the EIC and our links with industry, we will ensure our students gain exposure to even greater levels of applied, real-world learning. Our strategy is to ensure the University is at the forefront of future skills development enabling Lancashire and the North West region to lead the new ‘digital’ industrial revolution which is now upon us.”

David Taylor, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University Board, added: “The EIC is not only a significant asset to the University but also the county, wider region and the UK. It will act as one of the driving forces behind the industrial strategy both on a regional and national scale while cementing Lancashire’s position as a national centre of excellence for aerospace, advanced engineering and manufacturing.”

 Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP, said: “We are committed to boosting economic growth across the Northern Powerhouse and levelling up every place in the UK as we prepare to leave the EU on 31 October.

“Thanks to £10.5 million of investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, the University of Central Lancashire’s flagship Engineering Innovation Centre will play an important role in cementing the North’s long-standing reputation for world-class further education, scientific innovation and engineering excellence.

“The advances made and skills learned at this pioneering facility will have far-reaching benefits from equipping young people for well paid, highly skilled jobs to technological advances supporting manufacturing businesses throughout the North and around the world.”

Steve Fogg, Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, added: “The LEP has invested £10.5m Growth Deal funding towards creating this world-class centre of excellence for high technology manufacturing which will support innovation in local businesses and supply the skilled and talented engineers they need to grow and succeed.

“Lancashire is already the country’s number one region for aerospace production and advanced manufacturing.

“By funding projects like the EIC, the development of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone and new education and training facilities across the county, the LEP is investing in the facilities and the skilled workforce of the future needed for the sector to maintain and build on its leading position, compete on the global stage and take advantage of opportunities in emerging markets.

“Our £320m investment programme is supporting strategically important projects like this all across Lancashire which, together, will drive substantial economic growth for years to come, create thousands of new jobs and homes and attract £1.2bn in private investment.”



Engineering Innovation Centre by numbers

The completed building comprises of 630 tonnes of steel, which hold 150 pre-cast concrete floor planks – the largest of which weighs 11 tonnes. Similarly, the building includes 652 panes of specially designed glass, each weighing 250kg and measuring four square metres. Joists and cabling throughout the building are visible to students, deliberately designed to inspire their curiosity to observe engineering as part of daily life.


The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is a leading modern university with thriving campuses in Preston, Burnley, Westlakes (Cumbria) and Cyprus.

Founded in 1828 as the Institution for the Diffusion of Knowledge, UCLan now has a staff and student community approaching 38,000 and an employment-focused course portfolio containing over 350 undergraduate programmes and nearly 250 postgraduate courses.

As well as being a national leader in the number of student and graduate start-up businesses it supports, UCLan is also Lancashire’s largest provider of graduate level qualifications, supplying highly skilled graduates into the workforce. The University also has established links with global businesses, police constabularies, NHS trusts and more than 1,000 regional enterprises across a variety of sectors.

Internationally the University now enrols students from more than 100 countries and has partnerships with 125 institutions from across the globe.

The University has an established research reputation with world-leading or internationally excellent work taking place within the areas of Business, Health, Humanities and Science. UCLan is also ranked in the top six percent of universities worldwide in the 2019-20 Centre for World University Rankings, as well as holding the maximum 5 QS stars for the quality of its teaching.

With a strong focus on continually improving the student experience, UCLan is currently undertaking a £200 million project to redevelop its Preston Campus. The vision is to create an attractive and inviting, world-class environment helping to create jobs, kick-start regeneration and attract inward investment into the city and North West region.

University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) website: https://www.uclan.ac.uk/


About Lancashire’s Growth Deal Programme

In the last three years the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has successfully secured £320m of Growth Deal investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

This funding, one of the largest Growth Deal settlements to be allocated to a LEP, is designed to help improve and upgrade existing commercial infrastructure, kickstart new economic initiatives, and unlock additional private investment to drive further growth across the county.

Over 40 projects have directly benefitted from the LEP’s Growth Deal Programme. These include:

  • New and improved transport connections including the Blackburn-Bolton Rail Corridor; the Broughton Bypass; the Centenary Way Viaduct; and the Hyndburn-Burnley-Pendle Growth Corridor;
  • World-class higher education, research and vocational skills provision and facilities including UCLan’s flagship Engineering and Innovation Centre; the national Energy HQ in Blackpool; Lancaster’s Health Innovation Campus; and Myerscough College’s Food & Farming Innovation Centre;
  • A wide-ranging package of regeneration programmes specifically for Blackpool including a new international conference centre at the Winter Gardens complex; the development of Blackpool town centre ‘Green Corridors’; traffic management, bridge and road improvements and an extension of Blackpool’s tram network.

The Growth Deal programme will help to generate up to 11,000 new jobs, create 3,900 new homes and attract £1.2 billion of additional public and private investment for Lancashire.

Lancashire’s Growth Deal programme is also fully aligned to other major economic initiatives such as the £450m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal, the £20m Growing Places Investment Fund, and the Lancashire Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Enterprise Zone Cluster.

For more information visit www.lancashirelep.co.uk


European Regional Development Fund

The project has received £5.8m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding



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