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Aerospace innovation centre secures £5m Government grant

The Spirit AeroSystems open access centre will focus on technology and development of the next generation of aircraft, the US company said.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Spirit AeroSystems near Prestwick Airport (John Linton/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Spirit AeroSystems near Prestwick Airport (John Linton/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Spirit AeroSystems near Prestwick Airport (John Linton/PA)

The Scottish Government is to invest almost £5 million in an aerospace innovation centre.

The Spirit AeroSystems open access centre in Prestwick will focus on technology and development of the next generation of aircraft, the US company said.

The £4.8 million investment will create 40 jobs and enable further growth over the next decade, the Scottish Government said.

The grant will provide Spirit with “state-of-the-art research and development facilities” and give access to other companies undertaking their own research and development, either independently or in collaboration with Spirit.

It follows initial £2.1 million funding for Spirit last year.

Today’s announcement underlines the importance of Prestwick as an aviation hub and as a key piece of Scotland’s industrial infrastructure, supporting jobs, investment and opportunityNicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the latest funding on a visit to the manufacturing site in the South Ayrshire town on Thursday.

But the Scottish Greens said it is unacceptable for the Government to invest in a company involved in the manufacture of military aircraft around the world.

The company’s website lists defence projects including modifying commercial aircraft for military use.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Just before last year’s Programme for Government I visited Spirit AeroSystems to set out our ambition for Scotland to develop, design and manufacture the technologies and products of the future, backed by an extra £45 million for business research and development over the next three years.

“Research and development drives innovation and economic growth so it’s great to be back here to see that additional support helping not just Spirit, but also companies across Scotland develop new products.

“Today’s announcement underlines the importance of Prestwick as an aviation hub and as a key piece of Scotland’s industrial infrastructure, supporting jobs, investment and opportunity.”

Scott McLarty, AeroSystems vice-president for the UK and Malaysia, said: “The new innovation centre will allow us to scale up our technology demonstrators and enable growth in advanced composite technologies and automated assembly.

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Nicola Sturgeon talks with Spirit AeroSystems engineer Stephen Brown (John Linton/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon talks with Spirit AeroSystems engineer Stephen Brown (John Linton/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon talks with Spirit AeroSystems engineer Stephen Brown (John Linton/PA)

“The centre will operate on an open access basis creating an environment that fosters supply chain and academic collaborations. This will strengthen the ability of Spirit and our partners to secure work on the next generation of aircraft.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said public money should be used to create jobs “in the kind of industries Scotland can be proud of”.

He said: “Public money going to a multibillion-dollar US firm involved in the manufacture of military aircraft just isn’t acceptable.

“It’s sadly clear that the SNP are happy supporting the arms industry and US war machine, so the Greens will continue to campaign for public money and public property to be used instead to create jobs and prosperity in the kind of industries Scotland can be proud of.”

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: “The creation of the open access Aerospace Innovation Centre at Prestwick will help cement Scotland’s position as a global centre of aerospace excellence.

“It is a truly transformational project that takes full advantage of the worldwide growth in aircraft manufacturing, has the potential to create a number of jobs in the South Ayrshire region and beyond, and enhances Scotland’s international reputation for nurturing and promoting innovation.”

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