A groundbreaking event has been held to celebrate Morgan Sindall Construction beginning work at the University of Salford’s North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (NERIC)

The £16 million NERIC is part of the £2.5 billion Crescent masterplan, a 240-acre major regeneration scheme being delivered by the University of Salford, Salford City Council and development partner, The English Cities Fund – a strategic joint venture between Muse Developments, Legal & General and Homes England – aimed at driving economic and social prosperity for the whole of the city over the life of the 20-year programme, through the delivery of spaces where people can live, work, relax and innovate.

The NERIC facility is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and will enable the University’s robotics and automation specialists to expand their work with SMEs around the country to provide solution development, design, testing and validation of digital innovation.

The groundbreaking event was attended by representatives of Morgan Sindall Construction and the University of Salford.

The University is a key strategic consortium partner of the Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute (AMPI) with the new facility – to be based in Rochdale – playing a key role in the innovation and product development that will stimulate and support growth in the UK’s vital machinery manufacturing sector in the North of England.

Disciplines covered by the 22,580 square foot NERIC building will include the dynamic and growing sectors of robotics for intelligent infrastructure, digital automation and supply chain improvement, as well as health, wellbeing and integrated care technologies.

NERIC will deliver a new gateway building to the Innovation District and provides the University with a new and significant presence facing on to Frederick Road. The building is articulated with a z-shaped plan expressing a series of stacked laboratories in turn linked by a central feature stair representing the heart of the building. Externally there is low level brickwork with standing seam steel cladding above.

The University and Morgan Sindall Construction have been working closely together for a number of years, both in the delivery of projects and through collaborating on educational programmes.

The contractor is also on site delivering the new £65 million Science, Engineering and Environmental Building (SEE Building) for the University, a new teaching and learning facility that will include a cutting edge teaching space for robotics.  The SEE Building will become the first all-electric building for the University, and incorporates solar PV panels on the roof, and an adiabatic air handling unit. Additionally, an early change in the design from concrete to a steel frame will result in a saving of 504 tonnes of carbon emissions over the building’s lifecycle – the equivalent of 1.68 million miles worth of travel in an average family car.

Earlier this year, Morgan Sindall Construction launched its second Knowledge Quad facility within its work at the SEE Building. The Knowledge Quad is a multi-purpose training and learning facility located within a live Morgan Sindall Construction site. It delivers value by undertaking activities focusing on the four key areas of skills, education, employment and discovery. The Knowledge Quad also creates a vital link between industry and education, ensuring that curriculums align with employer requirements and that students, trainees and apprentices at all levels are provided with the relevant knowledge and skills to help them succeed.

Shaun Jones, area director for Morgan Sindall Construction in Greater Manchester said: “Our work with the University of Salford is bringing a tangible boost to the wider North of England innovation landscape. It’s a real privilege for our team to help create the cutting edge facilities – like the SEE Building and the NERIC – that will enable the University’s brightest minds to study, research and develop the new technologies that will improve the world around us while bringing significant economic growth to our region.”

Professor Joe Sweeney, Dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Environment said: “Today is a landmark moment for the University and marks the start of a new chapter in the University of Salford’s journey to be unrivalled leaders in the area of robotics and autonomous systems.

“NERIC will be a world class facility and a destination where exciting things will happen when we bring together SMEs and our experts to innovate and develop solutions for the future.”