By Ian McConnell

GALLIFORD TRY’S Morrison Construction business has been awarded a £42 million contract to build the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland’s flagship facility near Glasgow Airport in Renfrewshire.

The facility, described as “the linchpin for the future of manufacturing in Scotland”, will be around 1.5 times the size of the football pitch at the national stadium at Hampden in Glasgow.

The contract was awarded after the University of Strathclyde, as operator of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS), approached the market with an Official Journal of the European Union restricted tender process. Morrison Construction is said to have proved in this process to be the “most economically advantageous in terms of both cost and quality”.

NMIS’s flagship facility will house a “fully digitalised factory of the future”, a skills academy and a collaboration hub that will bring manufacturers together to work on developing innovative manufacturing technologies and products.

The centre, which will aim to strengthen links between industry, academia and the public sector, will support manufacturing and engineering firms of all sizes from across Scotland in innovation and expansion.

Scottish 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 repurposing or scaling up their activity to supply vital equipment to health and social care, something NMIS has been involved in supporting.”

NMIS is supported by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, Skills Development Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and Renfrewshire Council.

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."

He added: "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 award of the construction contract comes days after NMIS announced the appointment of John Reid, a former senior leader of the Michelin tyre operation in Dundee, as chief executive. It also follows the signing of a grant-funding agreement between the University of Strathclyde and Scottish Enterprise for the operation of NMIS and the completion of a land-lease agreement for the site between the university and Renfrewshire Council.