MTC incubator secures £122m to support the development of innovative new products

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A new incubator facility at the Manufacturing Technology Centre has secured £122m from the government to support the development of innovative new products.

The funding is part of a £780m support package announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond that will see the expansion of successful catapult centres around the UK. The move is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

The West Midlands is the biggest beneficiary of the funding, with £270.9m being divided between the Manufacturing Technology Centre and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), both in Coventry and the Energy Systems Catapult, which is based in Birmingham.

Mr Hammond announced the funding during a visit to the MTC to officially open work on a 2,500 sq ft product manufacturing incubator.

The new Sopwith Building is a ground-breaking facility designed to help start-ups and entrepreneurs bring innovative products to market.

Unveiling a plaque in the new building, Mr Hammond said: "This new incubator will help start-ups turn their ideas into reality. By backing this centre with £122m funding we are supporting Great British innovators to create the technologies of the future and boost productivity."   

The three-storey Sopwith Building will provide incubation cells for start-ups to develop and manufacture prototypes of their innovative products. They will have access to the MTC's world-class advanced manufacturing and research facilities, as well as the MTC's team of engineering and manufacturing experts.

The building will be home to the Business Launch Centre Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary and trading arm of the MTC. The purpose-built product manufacturing incubator employs a team of highly-skilled engineers, many of whom a leading experts in their field.

Dean Baker, director of the Business Launch Centre, said the new building is creating a high quality environment for the development of new products.

"The BLC hosts incubation businesses and provides services to design, manufacture and mature prototypes through to full commercial viability. The ground floor of the new building hosts six specialist laboratory units, each one kitted out with the facilities and equipment to meet the exact requirements of each business occupier," he said.

The building is named after Sir Tommy Sopwith who founded the Sopwith Aviation Company at Brooklands in 1912. During the First World War the company built more than 16,000 aircraft including the legendary Sopwith Camel, designed by Sopwith chief designer Herbert Smith and credited with shooting down nearly 1,300 enemy aircraft.

MTC strategic development director Neil Rawlinson welcomed the extra funding announced by the Chancellor and said the custom built facility would be a huge boon for start-up companies needing facilities to develop their products for the marketplace.

"We are able, with this new building, to provide a de-risked environment for start-ups with the support of our product development team from concept to manufacture. Through the MTC's membership we can give young companies the opportunity to draw on the wider manufacturing community to create a successful and sustainable business. Our knowledgeable team offers an end-to-end service to reduce the stress of bringing a product to market," he said.

The Chancellor is pictured touring the new Sopwith Building.