NICOLA Sturgeon has opened an £8.9 million centre to help industry benefit from lightweight manufacturing technology.

The Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, operated by Strathclyde University, will develop lighter, more efficient components for using in industries such as car and plane manufacture.

The centre, temporarily located at the Doosan Babcock factory at Renfrew, is the first part of the £65m National Manufacturing Institute Scotland to be built near Glasgow Airport, where it will move in 2021.

Opening the centre, the First Minister said: “Our ambition is to build on Scotland’s long history of innovation and to be seen as modern inventors and producers, rather than just consumers of goods.

“It is really important, as technology rapidly advances, that our economy must follow suit.

“This world-class centre will help us do just that, as the first stage of our new National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.

“Businesses across Scotland will benefit from access to state-of-the-art equipment and opportunities for collaboration and research and development.

“The opportunities that stem from lightweight manufacturing will help increase their competitiveness.”

Strathclyde University Principal Professor Sir Jim McDonald said: “Lightweighting technology holds huge promise for a wide range of sectors, from making aircraft and vehicles lighter and more energy efficient, to improving renewable energy technology performance, and developing the next generation of materials for healthcare.

“The new centre provides the skills and services needed to place Scottish industry at the forefront of lightweight manufacturing, helping companies of all sizes compete globally.

“Today’s launch marks an important milestone in Scotland’s innovation journey, and we look forward to working side by side with businesses around the country.”

The Scottish Government contributed £3.9m to the

centre, with Scottish Enterprise providing £3.4m and Strathclyde University £1.6m.