£20m boost for UK steel and biotech

Article by Adam Duckett

BIOMANUFACTURING and the steel sector have each been awarded £10m (US$12.9m) in funding to help commercialise early-stage UK research.

The UK’s Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has granted the funding to form two new Manufacturing Research Hubs that bring together academic researchers and industry partners.

The Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub is led by the University of Manchester with partners at Imperial College, UCL, Nottingham University, the UK Catalysis Hub, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and the Centre for Process Innovation. It will help accelerate the development of scalable biomanufacturing processes for pharmaceuticals, chemicals and engineering materials.

The SUSTAIN Manufacturing Hub for the steels sector is led by Swansea University, with partners from five major UK steel producers – Tata, Liberty, British Steel, Celsa, and Sheffield Forgemasters – along with Warwick and Sheffield universities.

The aim is to radically improve the sustainability of steel manufacture, with targets to produce zero waste from iron and steelmaking and become carbon neutral by 2040. This will involve tapping new energy sources, capturing emissions and reprocessing waste streams. The partners expect the venture will help create more jobs and increase productivity by 15%.

Gareth Stace, UK Steel Director General, said: “This new boost of innovation funding into the sector is a vital piece of the puzzle to help deliver our vision of a cutting-edge, vibrant, and sustainable steel industry in the UK.

The future success of our sector rests on our ability to remain at the forefront of product and process innovation, delivering the new steel products demanded by our customers and society. This new hub will enable us to do just that.”

The EPSRC is also investing £10m in a hub focussed on electrical machines.

Lynn Gladden, IChemE Fellow and Executive Chair of the EPSRC, 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.”

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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