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Northern Powerhouse for Robotics


Northern Powerhouse for Robotics

Tuesday 18 August 2015

ROBOTICS pioneers in Salford and Manchester are spearheading a bid to create a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ for automated technologies.

The launch of the Northern Robotics Network at Salford University’s MediaCity campus on September 4 will give fresh focus to collaborations between industry and research centres and is another call to Government to support science in the North.

Building on the UK’s strategy for Robotics and Autonomous Systems, the network will match world class researchers with cutting edge companies to drive innovation and growth in manufacturing, healthcare, food, aerospace and other key regional sectors.

Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani, of the University of Salford, said: “Robots, computers and smart technology will change the way we work, do business – even how we care for our families.

8 technologies of future

“Prime Minister David Cameron described robotics as one of the eight great technologies of the future and one, we believe, will emerge as a powerhouse for the North.

“To fulfil this potential, we need a forum in which to work together and that is what we hope to achieve with the Northern Robotics Network.”

A recent survey of 200 UK manufacturers found two-thirds not currently using robots or automated systems, and a fifth failing to capitalise due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the technology.


The North’s rich heritage in robotics can be traced back to the Turing Test in the 1950s when University of Manchester mathematician first posed the question Can Machines Think? Another landmark came in 1987 when the University of Salford was chosen as the site of the United Kingdom's National Advanced Robotics Research Centre.

Since then Robotics researchers at Salford have been at the forefront of strategic national developments initiated by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, DEFRA and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Demonstrations of robotics

The event at MediaCity UK, Salford University, on September 4 includes speakers and exhibitors from Siemens, Rolls Royce, ABB, Festo, the National Nuclear Laboratory and more than 30 SMEs. 

A business and academic audience will see demonstrations of robotics from regional companies and from the University of Salford and the University of Manchester and can visit a showcase of GAMMA – a three-year Regional Growth Fund project between eight partners to develop software for unmanned vehicles and drones.

Keynote addresses at the MediaCity event will outline the challenges and opportunities for robotics and automated systems technology in manufacturing and smart city applications.

Key speakers:

-  Professor Helen Marshall, Vice-Chancellor, University of Salford

-  Alan Norbury, Central Technology Officer, Siemens UK

-  Dr David Bailey, Chief Executive, Northwest Aerospace Alliance,

-  Mike Wilson, General Industry Marketing Manager, ABB

-  Dr Carl Loller, Director of Future Projects & Technology, BAE Systems

-  Dr Sophie Boldon, Head of Market Development, UK Trade & Investment

-  Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, Director, ASTRAEA

-  Dr John Lamonte, Chief Executive of Transport for Greater Manchester

-  Walt Aldred, Research Director, Schlumber Technologies

Book a place:

For more information about the Event, please contact Rachel Holmes:


About The Northern Robotics Network

The Northern Robotics Network is an open network of people from across the north of the UK interested in robotics and autonomous systems. We organise meetings, events and networking for the Northern robotics community.

Building on the recent UK strategy for Robotics and Autonomous Systems, RAS2020, the NRN will identify ways in which the northern RAS community, through world class research, cutting edge companies and innovative application, can help drive the future of robotics in the UK.

Everybody from the large manufacturing companies, to casual robot enthusiasts is invited to join.

The founding members of the Northern Robotics Network are:

- Professor John Gray, University of Manchester

- Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani, University of Salford

- Geoff Pegman, RU Robots

Contact us at,


About Robotics and Automated Systems at the University of Salford , please contact Professor Nefti-Meziani or 0161 295 4010


About The SMART-E Project

SMART-E (Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe), coordinated by the University of Salford, is a European research and training programme on Advanced Robotics under the European Union programme FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN with a total budget of approximately €4 million. SMART-E is developing a leading European Doctoral Training programme, training 15 high calibre Researchers in the areas of Dexterous, Soft and Compliant Robotics in Manufacturing; Reconfigurable and Logistics Robotics; and Safety & Human Robot Interaction.

Coordinated by Prof Samia Nefti-Meziani, SMART-E brings together a team of world-renowned experts in robotics from leading universities in the UK, Germany, Italy and Switzerland ((University of Salford, University of Sheffield, Technical University of Munich, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italian Institute of Technology,University of Zurich) and a world leading manufacturers and end users of Automation in the Aerospace and Food sectors including FESTO, AIRBUS and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre Visit the SMART-E website


The Autonomous Systems & Robotics Research Centre holds the leading role in Autonomous mission planning and management, task allocation, hybrid optimisation, and intelligent decision making in the GAMMA Programme (Growing Autonomous Mission Management Applications). Lead Partners in this programme include North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) and BAE Systems, together with the Universities of Salford, Manchester, Lancaster, Liverpool, UCLAN, Liverpool (including the Virtual Engineering Centre), and National Nuclear Laboratories.

GAMMA is a three year £9.1 million Autonomous Systems programme aimed at driving SME engagement and developing technology within the emerging autonomous systems markets. GAMMA technology areas of interest include data management, image processing, sensing and communication and mission planning and management.