The National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland could help create tens of thousands of new jobs as part of its mission to ensure innovation bears fruit for the nation, according to one of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs.

Speaking on the Go Radio Business Show with Hunter & Haughey, Sir Tom Hunter revealed his genuine surprise at the important work of the Institute, whose aim is to help shape the future of manufacturing industries across the UK.

“Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde and Chair of the Institute’s Board, has been trying to get me to visit for a long time and it turns out to be one of Scotland’s hidden gems,” said Sir Tom. “I met some amazing people, including truly world-class engineers.”

The NMIS has evolved from the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre in Renfrewshire and includes a new flagship facility, opened in June this year, which is home to a Skills Academy, fully connected Digital Factory and publicly accessible collaboration hub.

With Scotland’s manufacturing sector employing more than 179,000 people and responsible for half of international exports and 47% of business expenditure on R&D, the Institute works with businesses of all sizes and sectors to find technology solutions from its growing network of R&D bases.  

Sir Tom commented: “Jim was telling me this is where they’re working out just how Scotland can lead the world. They’re working with companies who come there and bring genuine innovation to manufacturing. 

“There is so much going on right there on our own doorstep.

“For instance, the Institute believes Scotland can be world-leading in renewable energy, particularly in the area of floating offshore wind. Because the UK missed the wind turbine revolution, it’s vital we don’t now miss out on the benefits renewable energy in floating offshore wind can bring.”

The Institute is home to teams from diverse backgrounds, including industry, academia, and the public sector, and an integral part of their everyday work is training the next generation of pioneering manufacturers and engineers.

Sir Tom welcomed the notion that this strong focus on innovation and upskilling in different sectors could create many new jobs – including around 40,000 welders for renewable energy projects. 

“Imagine that! We’ve always talked about getting the right skills at play in renewable energy, but we do need to skill up – we need our colleges and our schools talking about what’s there and being aware of the fact up to 40,000 welders could be employed.”

A main tenet of the Institute’s work is accelerating productivity not only to grow Scotland’s economy and build an adaptive workforce but also create “happier, healthier, greener communities”.  

As part of this approach to a future built on eco credentials and wellbeing, Sir Tom was keen to highlight the Institute’s work in the recycling of composite materials.