A NEW network of research, education and training providers is being set up to help drive manufacturing innovation.

Led by the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, the network includes partners such as Borders-based Mountain Bike Centre of Scotland, Tay Cities Engineering Partnership and SeedPod, a £21 million investment in the food and drink industry to create a centre of excellence for manufacturing in north-east Scotland.

It is aimed at offering an easy means for manufacturing companies to tap into the vast expertise across the network and companies will also be able to access the partners’ own networks including the High Value Manufacturing Catapult through NMIS.

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It is hoped it will provide an open channel to share knowledge, capability, and ideas, and it is accessible to all organisations across the country who “can contribute to creating a sustainable and vibrant future for the Scottish manufacturing and engineering community”.

NMIS said it builds on its ability to address national and global manufacturing challenges and supports the goal of making Scotland an international leader in advanced manufacturing.

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The announcement comes at a critical time as manufacturers across Scotland are recovering from the impact of Covid-19.

John Reid, NMIS chief executive, said: "This is a crucial moment in time as manufacturers seek to navigate complex situations such as the climate emergency and post pandemic recovery. Now is a time to refocus, embrace innovation and seize the opportunities that so often emerge from challenging times."

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Business Minister, hailed the network as "an essential part" of the support programme. He said: “As we begin to make our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic and look to rebuild and grow Scotland’s economy, a vibrant and diverse manufacturing sector has never been more critical to long-term recovery and success."