Tata Steel is to boost its research and development programme in the UK following an £8m Regional Growth Fund investment from the UK Government.
The investment will allow researchers at Europe’s second largest steelmaker to develop next-generation steels for cars, aircraft, rail networks, skyscrapers, mining equipment and power stations.
Scientists and engineers will develop a range of materials to meet manufacturers’ and consumers’ future demands, such as for renewable energy generation and more fuel-efficient cars and planes.
Karl Koehler, Chief Executive of Tata Steel’s European operations, said: “This investment will strengthen our UK programme of cutting-edge research allowing us to develop new materials and applications to help our customers overcome their challenges, now and in the future.
“Our solutions contribute to our customers' innovative new products, such as more fuel-efficient vehicles and sustainable buildings. The Regional Growth Fund investment will support research projects which are key to us developing new customer solutions.'
While the RGF-funded research will initially take place at Tata Steel’s R&D facility in Rotherham, the company is currently considering where the research will continue over the longer term with a possible relocation to a different UK site in the future.
Tata Steel’s R&D Group Director Debashish Bhattacharjee said: “We are strengthening our Research & Development in the UK to further develop technology and knowledge partnerships with customers, suppliers, and universities.”
The company has strong research links with academia in the UK. Tata Steel sponsors three joint Chair positions at the University of Warwick, an endowed Professorial Chair at the University of Cambridge and other Chairs at the universities of Sheffield, Swansea and Imperial College, London.
Tata Steel, which employs 18,000 people in the UK and exports about half of its £6bn British-made products, also has a research presence at the University of Warwick allowing the company’s engineers to collaborate with researchers from the university and other companies on British-led innovation, and is actively exploring how it can expand on those research links.
Dr Bhattacharjee said: “We want to meet the future demands of our customers who are asking for lighter, stronger and more versatile steel products. Car manufacturers, for instance, are constantly looking to produce lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Cutting-edge innovation plays a crucial role in helping us to create world-leading differentiated products and services for customers like these.”
Roy Rickhuss, Chair of the National Trade Union Steel Coordinating Committee, said: “Tata Steel’s commitment and investment in R&D in the UK is welcome, as is the grant from the Regional Growth Fund. However, our primary interest at this stage is for those Tata Steel employees who will be affected by this announcement and arrangements are already in place to meet with the company to discuss implications for employees.
“We also want to work with the company in the best interests of all our members to create a sustainable future for the UK steel industry and we recognise that world-class R&D is essential to achieving that goal.”
Tata Steel is the largest operator in the UK steel industry and is a major supplier to many strategically-important UK manufacturers.
The company is the key partner in establishing The Proving Factory – an innovative partnership with high-tech companies in the automotive supply chain to help develop the technologies of tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Tata Steel is also in discussions with a number of business partners to transform its Teesside research centre into a not-for-profit, open-access shared facility.
Dr Bhattacharjee added: “At Teesside, widening the scope of this facility beyond Tata Steel would enable it to sustain and maximise the value of its competence and build collaborative programmes with a wide range of partners.”
For further information, contact Damien Brook +44 (0)1724 405786 or email@example.com
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About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel, whose main steelmaking sites are in the UK and the Netherlands, comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. They supply steel and related services to construction, automotive, packaging, rail, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world’s largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 29 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.