The Materials Processing Institute has been awarded £22m by chancellor Rishi Sunak to deliver a five-year research and innovation programme to revolutionise the steel and metals sector.

Acknowledged by the government as the UK’s innovation centre for steel and metals, the Teesside-based Institute will focus on increasing productivity and transforming environmental sustainability.

Projects include:

  • Carrying out research and innovation into low carbon, electric and hydrogen based steelmaking, scrap recycling and new processes to allow UK steel to transition to a sustainable, green industry
  • The development and commercialisation of technologies in SME supply chains, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, to increase productivity and product capability.
  • Develop new technologies for the extraction and recycling of rare metals, such as lithium and cobalt, in the UK – to support a sustainable, secure and ethical supply chain.

In addition, the programme will provide particular support to the South Tees Development Corporation and the Tees Valley local industrial strategy.

The Institute is an asset of fundamental importance to the Tees Valley economy and the chancellor’s announcement supports Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s commitment to bring steelmaking back to the region early this decade.

Nationally, research at the world-renowned Institute will better equip British steelmakers to meet domestic demand for finished steel which is a significant growth opportunity for the UK steel sector as well as helping it overcome barriers created by technology trends.

The Institute, a not-for-profit organisation, has worked with global steel and materials industries, including Tata Steel, British Steel and Liberty Steel, to deliver cutting edge research and innovation in advanced materials, low carbon energy, the circular economy and digital technologies.

Chris McDonald, chief executive officer of the Materials Processing Institute said: “Steel and metals are foundation industries essential for Britain’s manufacturing success and sovereign capability.

“Innovation is vital to ensure that our country retains a technological lead, improves productivity and enables us to meet carbon reduction targets to protect our planet for generations to come.  This investment recognises the world leading expertise at the Institute to support UK industry and environmental sustainability.

“The Institute is hugely grateful for the support of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Redcar MP Jacob Young for making the case to the chancellor and ministers.  Their role, plus the advocacy of former Redcar MP Anna Turley and Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke, has paid off for the region and British industry.”