Tata Steel is a world leader in the steel industry and constantly invests in developing new or improved production technologies and advanced steel products. In the 18 months between July 2016 and December 2016 alone we launched 40 new products.
What is clear to us, however, is that no matter how much we spend on internal research and development, or support our core academic networks, we can never have in place the expertise to cover all of our interests. Our needs include optimising raw material and energy use, developing new technologies for sustainable iron and steel making, new chemistries for advanced high strength steels, understanding hot and cold metallurgical transformation processes during rolling, as well as developing advanced coatings technologies for our products used in construction, automotive and Energy and Power, to name but a few. Add to this the key need to understand the way in which our customers use our products and their future requirements, it is clear that we must constantly find new ways of identifying the right partners to work with and over the last two years we have been actively developing an open innovation strategy, unique in the Steel Industry.
In April, 2014 we launched our Technology Challenges Gallery where we post specific opportunities and challenges that we want to explore with partners. In February 2015, we launched Tata Steel’s Innovation Portal, describing more generally our interest areas across our production processes, product development opportunities and new application development, and giving potential partners the opportunity in confidence to propose areas where we can work together.
Of course, launching these initiatives is one thing, following through on them is another. To date we have had over 380 proposals from large organisations, academia and SME and are actively working to develop a number of these with the proposers. These include new coating application technologies, novel construction techniques, surface engineering approaches to extend the life of our production equipment and improve the quality of our products, projects to reduce our water usage, the use of laser technologies to measure the shape of our products in-line and even the use of high speed camera technologies developed for the postal industry to monitor the quality of our strip products in-line. If you think you have an opportunity where we can work together, we want to hear from you!