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Remaking the future

New research hub to drive ‘circular’ economy in Scotland.

21 Jan 15

A future where products are made over and over again – and nothing is wasted – is one step closer thanks to a major new research institute which opens today.

The Scottish Institute for Remanufacture, based at University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, has been backed by more than £2 million from Scottish Government and private sector businesses and is the first of its kind in Europe.

Its mission will be to help grow remanufacturing businesses in Scotland and to develop an international research institute.   

Remanufacturing describes a range of activities, whereby used products or components are rebuilt and returned to at least ‘as new’ quality and specification and are given the same or similar guarantees as equivalent new products.

Estimated to be worth £2.4 billion to the UK economy, remanufacturing is already common in various industrial products including engines, pumps and gearboxes in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors. However, experts claim it could be much more widespread as part of a drive to create a more ‘circular’ economy, which tries to eradicate waste.  

Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead said: 

“We want to move away from the current situation where valuable materials often go to waste, to a circular economy where things are designed to be used over and over again.   

“This approach can create jobs and stimulate growth, and I am keen to hear ideas about how best to make the most of the opportunities that a circular economy can offer Scotland. Remanufacturing – which will be driven forward in Scotland thanks to this fantastic new institute – will be at the heart of this agenda.   

“Scotland is already recognised as a leader on the circular economy internationally and this new centre will further support our progressive ambitions.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: 

“I am delighted that the University of Strathclyde is hosting this new centre of excellence for remanufacturing. This is the latest in a succession of partnerships we have created between industry and academia to drive innovation and growth for Scotland’s economy by building on world-class research capability and skills.

“As home to the UK’s largest remanufacturing research group, the University - with its partners - is ideally placed to ensure Scotland is positioned at the forefront of this key engineering and technology theme".

Laurence Howells, Chief Exec of the Scottish Funding Council said:

“Reuse, repair, recondition and remanufacture are going to be really important ways for us to protect the environment and make Scottish business more competitive.

“The work of the Scottish Institute of Remanufacture is going to be vital across industries as diverse as aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics and marine.  SFC’s investment of £1m will enable industry, academics and the public sector to innovate and help Scottish industry get ahead and compete globally.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive Zero Waste Scotland said:

“Zero Waste Scotland is excited to be investing in and putting its weight behind the new Scottish Institute for Remanufacture, which can play a vital role in developing opportunities for circular economy businesses to thrive in Scotland. 

“Remanufacturing presents tremendous opportunities for creating jobs, businesses and a sustainable economy in Scotland built on a circular model, where we keep increasingly scarce resources in productive use as long as possible.”

The Scottish Institute for Remanufacture will be hosted by the University of Strathclyde but in keeping with its Pan-Scotland ethos it will draw capabilities from major Scottish research institutions to build capacity and innovation. A steering committee will be appointed composing of industry experts, as well as experts from major Scottish research institutions – including Heriot Watt University - one of the Institutes original backers.

It is funded by £1.3m over three years from the Scottish Funding Council and Zero Waste Scotland. In addition, Scottish companies have already pledged over £800k of funding, or in-kind support, for potential research projects for the Institute. It is one of only four centres of excellence for remanufacturing globally, joining others in Singapore, New York and Beijing.

The new institute will be headed up by Dr Winifred Ijomah, of the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacture & Engineering Management.  Head of the Strathclyde Remanufacturing Research Group, Dr Ijomah is one of the UK’s leading remanufacturing researchers, and has been instrumental in developing research in the field.

Dr Ijomah added:

“A key opportunity for the Institute is to capitalise on the growing low carbon market. Remanufacturing is complex and multifaceted so requires interdisciplinary projects involving academia, industry and other stakeholders. The centre is an essential mechanism that will support such complex collaborations. It will further reduce the barriers to wider adoption of remanufacturing by pulling the expertise embedded within Scottish universities to develop the essential new knowledge, expertise, tools and techniques.”

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