24 April 2024

Interim Report lays foundation for UK’s materials sector

The report marks progress in the development of a National Materials Innovation Strategy in the UK.

© Henry Royce

The strategy process has surfaced the promising cross-sector opportunities that, if exploited, will ensure the UK maintains a world-leading position in the rapidly expanding materials markets that currently generate turnover of £1trln and employ £1.9 million skilled workers.

The National Materials Innovation Strategy Interim Report was developed under the leadership of the Materials Innovation Leadership Group (MILG), facilitated by the Henry Royce Institute.

The report, and its associated summary Materials Futures Progress Report, encapsulates the materials challenges identified by over 1,200 innovators spanning a wide range of strategic industries.

It also provides a raft of new econometric data, to support the business case for implementing the eventual national strategy's key recommendations:

  • Over 2,500 companies in the UK are active in materials innovation.
  • They contribute just under £45bln to the UK economy (with a turnover of just under £1trln globally).
  • 70% of those companies identified have Registered Offices outside of London and the Southeast.
  • Combined, these companies employ more than 635,000 people in the UK.
  • Approximately three-quarters of the companies identified are micro or small-sized companies; 16% are medium-sized companies and 10% are large companies.
  • 50% of companies identified are in manufacturing, and 40% are in R&D.

The final strategy will provide recommendations for necessary interventions to accelerate UK materials innovation – including funding and other support for the commercialisation of materials capabilities, the development of investment vehicles, incentives for companies to invest in new materials innovation, and support for education and training programmes, as well as highlighting any substantial gaps in national infrastructure.

The Interim Report is a rallying call to the materials community and Royce is now inviting individuals to form Expert Working Groups tasked with creating detailed recommendations linked to identified opportunity areas.

Importantly, these groups will transcend sector boundaries, proposing materials developments that are economy-wide and sustainable. The common goal across all the groups is to accelerate materials innovations to solve industry-identified opportunities and challenges.

Allan Cook CBE, Chair of the Materials Innovation Leadership Group says, 'Materials are already playing a critical role in developing plans to meet our aspiration to get to net-zero, in driving major health improvements, and in supporting more sustainable use of resources; however, this work has already surfaced not only new opportunities, but also some of the barriers which are impeding our progress in implementing materials innovation. The output will provide clear recommendations around how we can accelerate plans to overcoming such impediments.'

If you are interested in contributing to the groups, please complete the Expression of Interest Form.




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