Monday, February 24, 2014

News: £8m to keep Tata Steel's R&D in Rotherham for now


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.

The Indian owned steelmaker said that the RGF-funded research will initially take place at Tata Steel's R&D facility in Rotherham, but added that "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."

Reports surfaced again last year that Tata Steel intends to close the Swinden Technology Centre (STC) on Moorgate in Rotherham. The Sunday Times claimed that Tata had warned the Government that it intends to close two technology centres, in Rotherham and on Teeside adding that it would move the research to the Netherlands and India.

Tata rubbished the reports but said today that it is now in discussions with a number of business partners to transform its Teesside research centre into a not-for-profit, open-access shared facility.

The new £8m in funding will see scientists and engineers 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.

The Regional Growth Fund is the Government's main source of funding for economic development and regeneration. The aims of the fund are to create jobs, encourage private investment and support areas dependent on the public sector.

Dr 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."

Tata Steel 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. As part of the programme, which is also backed by Government funding, a component manufacturing facility is being created at Tata Steel's site at Brinsworth and is set to open in 2015.

The £22m manufacturing initiative will take low-carbon vehicle technologies designed by small high-tech British companies and university research departments and prove their viability in production to increase their chances of being adopted by major motor manufacturers.

Debashish Bhattacharjee, R&D group director at Tata Steel, said: "We are strengthening our Research & Development in the UK to further develop technology and knowledge partnerships with customers, suppliers, and universities.

"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."

Tata Steel website

Images: Tata Steel


Anonymous,  February 28, 2014 at 11:08 AM  

Hi Tom,

I just thought I'd give you the heads up on this. It would appear that the Warwick move is pretty much a done deal. The £8m is only ours if a move to the Warwick Uni Campus takes place in my understanding. Dates we have say 2016 will be the end for our 62 year old plot on Moorgate (STC).

Tom,  March 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM  

Thanks for the update. I've had a response from the union and done a follow up article here:

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