MPI CEO Chris McDonald
Jamie Hardesty

Member Article

Teesside MPI welcomes announcement of £235million research centre

The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) has welcomed Government plans for a new national research and innovation centre in advanced materials.

Representatives from the Teesside-based MPI met with the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport earlier this month to discuss the £235million The Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research and Innovation proposed for Manchester.

MPI, which returned to independent ownership in November after previously being owned by British Steel and Tata Steel, hopes to partner the Sir Henry Royce Institute by helping to convert initial research ideas into commercial ventures.

Material Processing Institute Managing Director and CEO Chris McDonald said: “The proposals for the Sir Henry Royce Institute are to be warmly welcomed and will greatly benefit the UK economy. At MPI, we are happy to support the research that will take place there and wanted to reiterate that message to Sir Mark Walport.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the Institute and we wanted to make sure that Sir Mark appreciated what we are trying to achieve at MPI, particularly around scaling up research and commercialising it.”

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for the Sir Henry Royce Centre in his Autumn statement to allow the UK to grow its world-leading research base in advanced-materials science, which is fundamental to all industrial sectors and the national economy. The new Institute, will be based at Manchester University supported by satellite centres or ‘spokes’, comprising the universities of Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London.

Mr McDonald was invited to meet with Government officials at Westminster and to propose how MPI, which boasts first rate research and development facilities, can help the Sir Henry Royce Institute to make the most of its potential.

Mr McDonald added: “The Sir Henry Royce Institute will very much lead on research whereas we are from a much more commercial background and therefore have specific knowledge, experience and skills that can upscale that work to shape those ideas into commercial ventures with financial value.

“This is a huge opportunity for MPI to become involved in something that could have huge benefits to the UK economy. We have identified ourselves as the centre to assist in creating tangible commercial opportunities from them.”

After returning to independent ownership, the MPI now operates as a not-for-profit entity to not only benefit customers, but UK trade in general. The MPI collaborates with well-respected partners such as Harsco, CPI and Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), but has also opened up its services to SMEs, where it hopes it can add real value to smaller players in sectors such as recycling and waste, construction, automotive, oil and gas and nuclear.

Mr McDonald added: “The materials sector has been neglected to some degree and has not really featured in industry strategies so we are determined to do what we can to enhance that.

“In the UK, we have various high value industries such as aerospace and automotive engineering, nuclear and the energy sector. They all have materials challenges but until quite recently, materials wasn’t really talked about as an important element within these sectors.

“But things are beginning to change with greater acknowledgement of what we do here and how we can contribute towards the continuing success of these sectors. The Sir Henry Royce Institute will be essential to that and we support the proposal every step of the way.”

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