Ambitious plans to place the Midlands at the heart of the multi-billion-pound global advanced ceramics industry have been set out by a consortium of the region’s business, academic and research bodies.
Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group (MICG) officially launched a four-year research programme involving both industry and academia, at the Ceramics UK expo, held at the NEC in Birmingham.
The programme secured £18.27 million government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) last year and is the first stage of a project which could channel £80 million of investment and generate 4,200 jobs in the region over the next decade.
Chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership, Sir John Peace, spoke at the launch.
He said: "The advanced ceramics of today underpin an astonishing number of industries across the globe – aerospace, clean energy, automotive, telecoms, defence and healthcare all benefit from, and will continue to rely on, these innovative materials.
"It's an industry in which we're increasingly competitive – and that's down to our region's unrivalled industrial heritage, manufacturing expertise and renowned academic institutions.
"Our region has an opportunity to lead the way – future-fitting our historic expertise and maintaining our region's legacy as a world-leader in ceramics."
Membership of the MICG is made up of blue-chip companies and SMEs including Rolls-Royce, Morgan Advanced Materials, Lucideon, Foseco, Trelleborg, Precision Ceramics and AEON Engineering as well as the universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Loughborough.
At the event the MICG invited new partners to engage with them, their research and to do business in the Midlands.
Ian Edmonds, of Rolls-Royce, is the chair of MICG. He said: "Ceramics UK provided a great platform for MICG to celebrate the start of its SIPF programme, give visitors the opportunity to find out more about the project, and show how we are working collectively to achieve our goals.
"The advanced ceramics sector is projected to be worth £143 billion by 2023 globally, and the SIPF funding means the Midlands is well-placed to be part of it."
The MICG aims to drive the competitiveness and success of advanced manufacturing in the Midlands by tackling key innovation challenges, such as creating a unified process for the development and commercialisation of new and enhanced processes and products.
The SIPF funding, combined with partner investment and the creation of new business opportunities, will together make the MICG programme a £42.1 million project.
The project could also unlock further investment from MICG's partners for the Advanced Ceramics Campus – a 130,000 square foot development, proposed for North Staffordshire.
Ian Edmonds added: “The forum is about collaboration on research and development to meet the new common challenges across the advanced ceramics supply chain including net zero, lower energy manufacturing techniques and scale-up.
"There are a wealth of opportunities in the Midlands and we are interested in hearing from anyone involved in researching, using or producing advanced ceramics."
The MICG website has details on the MICG partners and their delivery programme. More details about MICG can be found at micg.org.uk