Small Businesses Research Initiative (SBRI) funding competition: advanced nuclear manufacturing and materials

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is to invest up to £5 million in projects to develop innovative manufacturing and materials technologies for the civil nuclear sector.

The aim of this competition is to establish an innovative R&D base for materials and manufacturing that will support a strong UK nuclear supply chain.

Proposals should address one of the following themes:

  • Nuclear structural materials (£1.5 million);
  • Mechanisation and automation of component manufacture (£1.9 million);
  • Large scale component manufacture and assembly (£1.1 million);
  • Pre-fabricated module development and verification (£200,000); and
  • Design codes and standards (£300,000).

The competition opened on 7 November, registration must be completed by 11 January and applications submitted by 18 January 2017. Register your interest on the competition web site.

"Powering the UK's Nuclear Future" - Nuclear South West conference

On Tuesday, close to 100 people from businesses from all aspects of the nuclear industry gathered in Bristol to hear about opportunities in and support for the nuclear industry in the South West.

Photo by Jon Craig

Photo by Jon Craig

Kicked off by a key note from Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, the event included speakers from EDF Energy, the Ministry of Defence, James Fisher Nuclear, Costain, Hydrock, Waldeck Consulting, Somerset County Council and Local Enterprise Partnership, National College for Nuclear, Bridgwater and Taunton College, Hinkley Supply Chain Team, APEC, Women in Nuclear and South West Nuclear Hub. 

See list of presentations below. 


Nuclear South West welcomes Government announcement on Hinkley Point C

The largest engineering project in Europe - the construction of the new power station at Hinkley Point C in Somerset - is a once in a lifetime opportunity to boost the jobs and economic prosperity and generate thousands of training opportunities for local people throughout whole of the South West.

Image courtesy of EDF Energy

Image courtesy of EDF Energy

Today’s announcement is welcomed by the Nuclear South West (NSW) cluster, which is a partnership between the nuclear industry network in the South West and the stakeholder alliance of the three Local Enterprise Partnerships: Heart of the South West, West of England and GFirst; the academic and skills sector and the business support agencies.

Hinkley Point C will be the first new nuclear power station in the UK for a generation, capable of generating 7% of the UK’s total energy requirement. Over 60% of the project’s £18 billion construction value is predicted to go to UK companies. The project will create 25,000 job opportunities, 1,000 apprenticeships and will inject £100m a year into the regional economy.

Matt Burley, NSW Chair said:

I am absolutely delighted that our Government has approved EDF’s Final Investment Decision to allow the Hinkley Point C project to go ahead.  This decision now clears the way for a huge multi-year nuclear reactor build programme and up to 60 years of large scale electrical power production which will advance our fight against climate change and will affect every one of the 210,000 business in the South West, either directly or indirectly.  
Hinkley Point C is a fantastic opportunity that places the South West at the forefront of UK civil nuclear new build: it will allow South West businesses to build knowledge and access the global nuclear industry; it will allow local schools, colleges and universities to get up close to the very latest science and engineering disciplines; and it will allow our families to benefit from the long term regional economic benefits.  This is a fantastic day for the nuclear industry, for the UK, for France, for EDF, for our Chinese Investment Partners, and for the South West.

Dr Brian J McConnell, Managing Director of Hydrock and founding member of NSW said:

The Prime Minister’s decision to give the green light for Hinkley Point C is excellent news for the UK, for the South West and for the supply chain. This multi-billion pound project will be a massive boost to the regional and national economy for many years and is the first of a number of planned new nuclear power plants across the country.  Many companies already working with EDF on the Hinkley project, such as our own,  already know the positive impact this project can have on their business. 

The Government has placed a clear emphasis on an industrial strategy and Hinkley Point C is the first part of a new nuclear programme which will extend to Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey, Moorside in Cumbria and Sizewell in Suffolk, bringing with it an abundance of opportunity. 
Hinkley Point C has been a long time coming but finally it has been given the go-ahead and it’s up to companies in the south-west and beyond to seize the opportunity.

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP, where Hinkley is sited, said:

Hinkley Point C will transform our economy, creating 25,000 new jobs and generating £18bn investment. It’s the cornerstone of our Nuclear South West partnership in which we’re promoting the South West as the UK’s leading area for the nuclear sector with international profile.

We’re geared up to provide local packages of investment which will make sure we really maximise these opportunities for people and businesses in our area:
“The new Somerset Energy and Innovation Centre near Bridgwater, the Hinkley Point Training Agency and the Hinkley Supply Chain for example - all part funded through the HotSW LEP’s deals with Government - are key components of the thriving Nuclear South West cluster.
This development will create a major step-change on our journey towards transformational growth, when we will really see the true value of the Heart of the South West in its role within the UK economy.
Image courtesy of EDF Energy

Image courtesy of EDF Energy

Stephen Robertson, Chair of the West of England LEP said: 

This is tremendous news for jobs and skills - the £18billion investment is set to create 25,000 new jobs and consolidate our position as the UK’s leading area for the nuclear sector.  We have been working with local partners to gear up the supply chain to maximise opportunities for as many people and business as possible.   Hinkley Point C marks only the beginning of a rolling programme of investment in nuclear power in the south west, this includes Oldbury, South Gloucestershire, once again showing that the West of England really is the home of knowledge, innovation and quality of life

David Owen, Chief Executive of GFirst LEP, said:

The approved investment that will see Hinkley Point C go ahead is great news for the region’s economy, especially with a boost in local job creation.
Businesses in Gloucestershire will be a vital part of the supply chain and skills. The decommissioned Berkeley power station site the GREEN skills centre will open, confirmed as part of GFirst LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan submitted to Government in 2014, with the Gloucestershire Growth Deal allocating £1.15 million for this development, in partnership with South Gloucestershire and Stroud College. 

The centre will deliver much needed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) skills, in order to provide training and apprenticeships to create a local workforce that will excel in the demand for skilled engineers. With the predicted 25,000 jobs being created at the Hinkley site, Gloucestershire will be the go to place for skills to meet the growing demand in nuclear, engineering and renewable energy.

There are over 180 nuclear companies and organisations in the South West. Many are part of NSW’s industry network which helps businesses raise their profile and win work by sharing information and connecting them to new opportunities.

NSW held an event in Westminster in July, which brought together parliamentarians and South West nuclear industry leaders to set out the economic potential the region has to support the UK energy sector and ensure the Government recognises the unique opportunities that exist in the South West. 

Following from this, NSW is holding its inaugural Conference in Bristol on Tuesday 20 September where SMEs will be able to hear news about an extensive range of nuclear prospects across the entire sector.

Today’s announcement consolidates those opportunities and will enable the local economy to create a legacy of jobs, skills, infrastructure and supply chain trade.

New Hub opens for nuclear energy research and education

A new Hub for nuclear energy that will become a leading centre in the South West for academic research, education and innovation has opened at the University of Bristol. 

left to right: Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor; Megan and Nuala Smith, daughter and wife of the late Professor David Smith; Emeritus Professor Joe McGeehan; Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub and Professor David Knowles, co-director (engineering) of the South West Nuclear Hub. Image credit: Richard Cottle

left to right: Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor; Megan and Nuala Smith, daughter and wife of the late Professor David Smith; Emeritus Professor Joe McGeehan; Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub and Professor David Knowles, co-director (engineering) of the South West Nuclear Hub. Image credit: Richard Cottle

Building on the success of the Bristol-Oxford Nuclear Research Centre, the South West Nuclear Hub will be open to both the UK and international nuclear energy community and offer a research network that supports the safe operation of current and future generation nuclear systems in the UK and around the world.

Professor Tom Scott, co-director of the South West Nuclear Hub at the University of Bristol, said:

“Our objective is for the Hub to become an internationally recognised centre for nuclear research and education. It will bring academic and industrial expertise together in an exciting multidisciplinary environment to address some of the major engineering, scientific and societal challenges related to civil nuclear power generation. 
“Through a Masters teaching programme, the Hub will deliver the skills required by the next generation of the UK’s nuclear plant operators, regulators and supply chain.
“The Hub’s building has been named after the late Professor David Smith, who was instrumental in establishing the NRC and the Bristol nuclear research community.”

Evolving from the NRC, which was formed in partnership with the University of Oxford in 2011, the Hub project will strengthen nuclear energy related research and teaching in the region and support the delivery of the Government’s strategy on low-carbon, secure energy.  Whilst the Hub has been founded by the NRC, its membership has expanded to include other regional universities and industrial partners, acting as a link for co-ordination and consolidation of activities and investment.  

The Hub will build partnerships between academia, industry and government, both nationally and internationally, to develop research and education for the UK’s nuclear future.

It will provide innovative underpinning science, engineering solutions and technologies that have a positive impact on the economy and society by contributing to energy safety and security, particularly in the areas of next generation nuclear technologies as well as decommissioning and waste management.

Strong support has been received from leading industrial stakeholders including: EDF Energy, the EDF Group, Areva, Sellafield Ltd and Horizon Nuclear Power.  Governmental organisations and agencies such as the National Nuclear Laboratory, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy and the Local Enterprise Partnerships have also provided support.