UK Steel, Pharmaceutical and Transport manufacturing will be future-ready thanks to research boost

A £30 million research and innovation investment in British manufacturing will ensure the UK can seize new opportunities in steel production, pharmaceuticals and the revolution in transport infrastructure.

Three new £10 million Manufacturing Research Hubs will link major industry players including Tata Steel, Siemens, and Rolls-Royce to world-class research teams. 

The Hubs will pioneer new practices to ensure these established manufacturing sectors can meet evolving industry need, seize new opportunities and tackle key issues such as sustainability and productivity.

The three new Hubs will focus on steel production, bio-manufacturing, and electrical machines and will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). 

The Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub will receive £2 million co-funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Their addition takes the total number of Manufacturing Hubs to 13 across the UK, building comprehensive research support for the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: “This investment brings together world-class researchers and leading manufacturing firms to help revolutionise how key industries like steel operate in the future.

“These developments will help us build a smarter, greener and more efficient manufacturing sector in the UK which is a key part of our modern Industrial Strategy to harness the opportunities of clean growth creating more high-skilled jobs. 

“We are determined to ensure the UK sets the global best standard for making our energy intensive industries competitive in the new clean economy.”

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “There’s a real need to mesh fundamental research with our manufacturing industries. By doing so we can ensure that research is relevant to industrial need but also that UK businesses can be in touch with the latest developments in their fields. These three new Manufacturing Hubs cover industries that are important to the UK’s future capacity to make products sustainably and improve the country’s prosperity. ” 

Summaries of the Hubs are below:

The SUSTAIN Manufacturing Hub will be led by Professor David Worsley at Swansea University. It has been co-created by the five major UK steel producers (Tata, Liberty, British Steel, Celsa, and Sheffield Forgemasters) and the three principal Universities that have expertise in this area (Swansea, Warwick and Sheffield). 

It aims to provide academic leadership in steel innovation, influence policy, work with existing hubs and speed the implementation of research findings through to manufacture. 

The ambition is to radically transform the carbon intensity of the process of producing the world's most widely used advanced material and at the same time tailor its application to emerging manufacturing opportunities for electrification of transport, manufactured buildings and sustainable packaging. 

It will also look to embed the industry in communities essentially as energy hubs - an aspiration which is clearly applicable to other sectors such as glass, petrochemicals and cement.

The Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub (FBRH) will be led by Professor Nigel Scrutton at The University of Manchester with spokes at Imperial, UCL, Nottingham, the UK Catalysis Hub, IBioIC and CPI. 

It will develop new underpinning technologies based on industrial biotechnology to enable efficient, sustainable and innovative bio-based manufacturing in three key sectors – Pharmaceuticals; Value-added Chemicals; Engineering Materials. 

The Hub will accelerate delivery of economically attractive, robust and scalable biomanufacturing processes to meet societal and commercial demand through industrial partnerships and co-created research programmes. 

Centred at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), FBRH will connect the Hub and Spoke’s strengths in interdisciplinary industrial biotechnology discovery science with industry to stimulate innovative and sustainable biomanufacturing capabilities and position the UK at the vanguard of economic Clean Growth.

Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub will be led by Professor Geraint Jewell at the University of Sheffield, with spokes at Newcastle University and the University of Strathclyde, 

This Hub aims to put UK manufacturing at the forefront of the electrification revolution. The Hub will address key manufacturing challenges in the production of high integrity and high value electrical machines for the aerospace, energy, high value automotive and premium consumer sectors. Partners that have helped create this Hub include Rolls-Royce, Siemens, GKN plc, Dyson Limited, Protean Electric Limited and Hoganas AB.

Through delivering world-class manufacturing research and innovation, the Hub will assist UK manufacturing to capture significant value in the electrical machine supply chain, improve UK industrial productivity and deliver the environmental benefits and cleaner growth at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy.

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