Government funding to help unlock region’s potential as ‘global centre’ for advanced ceramics

Government funding has helped unlock plans to put the Midlands on a unique footing as a global centre for advanced technical ceramics.

The Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group (MICG) has successfully bid for funding in the latest round of awards announced by the UK Research and Innovation’s flagship ‘Strength in Places Fund’.

With a focus on positioning the Midlands as a world leader in advanced ceramics,
the MICG is drawing on industry and academia to make the region a magnet for international investment.

According to the group, this will ultimately contribute towards growth of 4,200 jobs in the region by 2030.

Membership of the MICG comprises blue chip companies and SMEs including Rolls-Royce, JCB, Morgan Advanced Materials and Lucideon – as well as the universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Loughborough.

Sir John Peace, chairman of the Midlands Engine, recently attended a MICG meeting to demonstrate support for the project.

He said: “The Midlands has always been a global leader in ceramic design, cutting edge product development with global research organisations, and innovative manufacturing technology.

“Advanced ceramics are critical to increase the competitiveness of key high-value advanced manufacturing industries in the region, and vital to the nation’s economic recovery and self-sufficiency.

“Through the collaboration of the MICG partners, the researcher, manufacturer and end-user will be connected, enabling effective problem-solving, ‘de-risking’ of innovation and faster commercialisation – leading to regional and national growth.

“As part of Midlands Engine’s role as an ambassador for transformational economic opportunities at scale within our region, we’ve been able to support MICG in their ambitious bid for investment.

“We are delighted that SIPF funding has been secured allowing work to progress and we will continue to work with MICG as they advance plans to accelerate and grow our region’s advanced ceramics sector.”

A key element of the project will be the delivery of improvements to manufacturing processes, making advanced ceramics more energy-efficient, faster and cheaper – boosting growth and productivity across the supply chain and benefitting customers across a wide range of industry sectors.

An Advanced Ceramics Campus in North Staffordshire is also proposed.

David Sweeney, UK Research and Innovation lead on the Strength in Places Fund, said: “I am delighted to be able to award early-stage funding to this bid which has great potential to benefit the local area through supporting innovation and sustained growth, and strengthen collaboration between industry and our world-class research base.”