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Ceram Successful in Regional Growth Fund Bid

Ceram is pleased to announce that it has been successful in its bid to the Government's Regional Growth Fund to secure funding to develop a new energy-reducing firing technology for the ceramics industry.

The project will enable Ceram to build a kiln to scale up its testing from the laboratory to a commercial level. If the new technology is subsequently proven, it could help ceramics manufacturers to cut their energy consumption, something that the energy-intensive industry is crying out for.

The innovative technology was developed following a direct call from the ceramics industry for help to reduce its high energy costs, something which puts it at a distinct disadvantage compared to overseas competitors whose energy costs are markedly lower. Government too recognises the importance of developing technologies that can reduce energy usage in energy-intensive industries, hence the success of Ceram's bid.

Tony Kinsella, CEO at Ceram, said:
"This is fantastic news, not just for Ceram, but for the ceramics industry and the local area. The funding will allow us to fully test the new technology at an industrial scale and, if successful, will mean that ceramics manufacturers can cut their energy costs by a possible 25%, allowing them to compete more effectively in the global market. We've estimated that, in the Stoke-on-Trent area alone, the industry could cut energy costs by £2 million, resulting in hundreds of new jobs locally.

"An added bonus is, of course, that lower energy usage results in a reduced carbon footprint, something which now forms part of most organizations' sustainability strategies and which consumers are increasingly demanding."

It is anticipated that the new technology will also allow novel materials to be sintered, enabling new products to be brought to market, especially in those sectors that use technical ceramics, such as the fast-growing healthcare sector.

Ceram's bid received great support from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, local MPs, in particular, Tristram Hunt MP, the Ceramic Development Group and ceramic manufacturers in the region. In order to ensure successful completion of the project, more funding is currently being sought from both the European Regional Development Fund and ceramics manufacturers.

Tony Kinsella said:
"Winning this award has been a superb exemplar of what can be done when industry, a technology business such as Ceram, local government and the Local Enterprise Partnership engage with Government. It proves that the heart of the ceramics ware industry, Stoke-on-Trent, is very much alive and a thriving place to do business."Thanks must go in particular to Stoke City Council which, through its Economic Development team, has been committed to working with industry to create wealth through employment, and the British Ceramics Confederation which has kept the industry at the forefront of Government's mind."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
"We need to be doing all we can to enable businesses and organizations to create much needed jobs and inject private investment into the economy.

"We have announced today that a further 162 projects will benefit from the fund, and expect to deliver a huge number of jobs across their businesses and in the supply chain.

"This is a very significant boost to local communities, and the Regional Growth Fund will help businesses like Ceram to drive local growth."

The development of the new technology forms part of Ceram's commitment to innovation and sustainability, helping their clients to develop innovative products, processes and technologies in order to reduce the use of resources, cut energy costs, enhance their green credentials, limit their impact on the environment, with the end result of adding to their bottom line. Recent innovation projects include the development of novel materials for drug delivery for the pharmaceutical industry and of new materials for orthopaedic applications.

11 October, 2011

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