University to lead new £16m nuclear centre

23 Feb 2010

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) is to invest £4.4 million towards the establishment of a £16 million centre at The University of Manchester to support the growth of the region’s nuclear energy industry and position the Northwest as a region of global nuclear capability.

Nuclear engineering image
Nuclear engineering image

The investment was announced by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson at a major press conference in Westminster, which focused on the economic changes brought about across the English regions by the New Industry, New Jobs agenda and the Regional Development Agencies. 

The Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology (C-NET) at the University of Manchester, which is also investing £3.5 million in the scheme, aims to increase the capability of the university sector to collaborate with industry.  It will also support industrial Research & Development in the nuclear sector’s reactor technology market through collaborative international research, education and skills development.

Once C-NET has been established, the long-term aim is to secure additional private sector investment to grow the centre to £25 million. An additional £2.61 million will be invested by the private sector with further private sector investment being sought.  The establishment of C-NET is conservatively estimated to contribute £20 million to the Northwest economy over 10 years, excluding firm productivity benefits, as well as creating 22 new jobs.

Robert Hough, Chairman of the NWDA, said:

“Estimated to generate over £20 billion worth of new business opportunities, the Government’s announcement of a UK nuclear new build programme has the potential to create a wealth of new opportunities for the sector’s growth in the Northwest.

However, there is fierce competition across the UK to secure major proportions of this programme and it is vital that we ensure the Northwest is in the strongest position possible to benefit.

Our investment in C-NET, which supports the delivery of the Northwest Science Strategy, will help to ensure that the region is equipped with the research and development capability, technology and skills needed to capitalise on this key growth sector.”

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean, Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester, said:

“The University of Manchester is delighted that the NWDA is joining us in investing in the Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology, reinforcing our commitment to deliver research and development, education, and knowledge transfer in the nuclear sector. The combined resources of the University and the NWDA in supporting this major project will benefit the Northwest region considerably and add greatly to its economic growth.”

Welcoming the announcement, Phil Woolas, Minister for the North West, said:
"Nuclear power provides reliable, cost-effective and low carbon energy and will play a vital role, alongside renewable and clean coal, in a secure energy mix for the future.  Four out of the ten sites identified by the Government as potentially suitable for new nuclear energy plants are in the North West so it is vital that our region has the best skills and technology available to ensure that we make the most of this once in a generation opportunity. The development of the new Centre for Nuclear Energy Technology at Manchester University will help us do just that."

The C-NET vision is to be recognised as a leading centre for reactor technology in the UK, contributing to the global renaissance in nuclear energy. It will focus on providing industrial R&D support and contribute to academic thinking in four key market areas:

•    New nuclear build: supporting the deployment and operational performance of UK new nuclear build systems
•    Navel propulsion: supporting the R&D requirements of next generation systems
•    Support to existing reactors: providing R&D support to extend the life time of existing plants
•    International advanced reactor development: collaborative international research future reactor systems

Notes for editors

This investment will complement a range of other key initiatives to ensure the region is in a strong position to capitalise on opportunities in the nuclear sector including:

Low Carbon Economic Area for Nuclear – Lord Mandelson announced in December 2009 that England’s Northwest has been chosen as a Low Carbon Economic Area for Nuclear based on the region’s unique assets and capabilities within the field of nuclear energy. The NWDA is leading on this as part of the UK’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, which was launched in July 2009 to bring together knowledge, skills and investment within the sector.

Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC): Working in partnership with Sheffield University, The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute will play a significant role in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in South Yorkshire. Manchester will provide research capability to innovate, demonstrate and disseminate manufacturing technology for components for nuclear power generation and will help supply chain companies compete in the civil nuclear sector.

For further information please contact Sarah Moston, Press Officer, NWDA, 01925 400552 / 07810 528 471,, or Alex Waddington, The University of Manchester, 0161 275 8387.

For further information and to view all press releases visit   

The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) leads the economic development and regeneration of England's Northwest and is responsible for:

    * Supporting business growth and encouraging investment
    * Matching skills provision to employer needs
    * Creating the conditions for economic growth
    * Connecting the region through effective transport and communication infrastructure
    * Promoting the region’s outstanding quality of life