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Alan Johnson MP and Cllr Sue Jeffrey on a tour of the steelmaking facility at MPI, with CEO, Chris McDonald.The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) has hosted a delegation of senior politicians to highlight the continued significance of innovation in the UK steel industry and its importance to the European economy.

A delegation from Labour In For Britain, led by former Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson MP, with Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough, Andy McDonald MP, and Councillor Sue Jeffrey, Chair of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, visited the Institute to discuss the importance of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union and influence on global steel innovation.

As a hub of innovative research and development in steel making solutions, MPI has a proactive relationship with European Union members, having recently hosted delegations from the German and Swedish steel industries – keen to use North East expertise to futureproof their steel production in increasingly difficult economic conditions for manufacturers.

The Institute is calling on the UK government to establish a new Materials Catapult along with its partners, TWI and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. The Materials Catapult would enable UK universities, researchers and large and small businesses to upscale and commercialise new innovations – raising their standing in the EU and strengthening the UK economy.

The pro-EU campaigners who visited the site, backed MPI’s ambition for a Materials Catapult, citing the potential for UK steel enterprise to continue to develop its world renown and support industrial development in Britain.

Chris McDonald, CEO of MPI, said: “The Materials Processing Institute supports Britain’s continued membership of the EU in order to safeguard access to UK industry’s biggest markets, and the clear benefits of collaborative research and funding for the North East.

“European interest in our operations continues to grow, as a consequence of the world-renowned expertise and industry specialists we have at the Institute.

“A Materials Catapult would enable us to support innovative industrialists from across the UK, allowing us to remain at the forefront of European industrial technology.”

Alan Johnson MP, said: “It is clear that being in the EU brings us jobs, growth and investment … having served as Trade and Industry Secretary and had dealings directly with the steel industry for many years I’m very interested in the work at MPI.

“The establishment of the Material Catapult presents a huge opportunity, which has been recognised by steel industries across Europe and elsewhere. It would be perverse if we didn’t take this opportunity, given the capacity of MPI to innovate, develop and take a lead.
“The case for MPI to become a catapult is overwhelming. Redcar steel hasn’t had the best hand dealt to it, the Material Catapult is an opportunity to give something back.”

Andy McDonald MP, said: “MPI provides definitive evidence in the need for collaboration with the European Union.

“It demonstrates how EU funds support the development of advanced technology in the UK, which in turn feed in to cutting-edge technology across the EU.

“Remaining in the EU is key to continued collaboration, and growing prosperity for North East industry.”

Cllr Sue Jeffrey, Chair, Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “I support the work at MPI and the bid to set up a Material Catapult.

“The Institute is proof that UK industry is at the cutting edge of new processes. The work they do here is world renowned. The Government should be doing everything it can to support MPI and the Material Catapult.”

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