The Midlands Now Has an Opportunity to Be a World Leader in Advanced Ceramics

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Ben Brittain discusses the Advanced Ceramics sector in the Midlands, and how recent funding may pave the way for the region to become a global leader in Advanced Ceramics.

Earlier in the year, City-REDI was proud to be part of a consortium of partners that included Rolls Royce and JCB, to create an Advanced Ceramics Sector Profile. The aim of this was to make the case for greater investment in this huge growth opportunity.

Following the success of the sector profile, The Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group (MICG) has secured £18.27m in government funding provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF), to put the area firmly on the map as a global centre for advanced ceramics.

With the SIPF cash injection, the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group will develop streamlined processes to bring new, advanced ceramics technologies to market faster, with less energy usage and lower carbon emissions. This will lead to jobs growth of 4200 by 2030.

The job growth opportunities are substantial, which result from the advanced ceramics sector growing rapidly across the world. Grandview Research estimates that the advanced ceramics sector achieved annual global revenues of £42 billion in 2015 and projected the sector would reach £143 billion by 2025. The sector is also rapidly growing in the UK, with Grandview Research[1] estimating that the UK market for advanced ceramics is expected to grow at 12.8% per annum until 2024. By comparison, Grandview estimates the global biotechnology market will grow by 7.4% per annum to 2025.

The Midlands is particularly well-placed to capitalise on this growth. The UK advanced ceramics industry has a significant cluster in the Midlands, with a clear opportunity to grow. Our research at City-REDI found that no other UK region has the equivalent mass of advanced ceramics specialist suppliers, end-users, and researchers.

As such the Midlands has the largest cluster of advanced ceramics producers in the UK. These producers form an integral part of the Midlands manufacturing supply chain, as well as exporting specialist products across the world, with firms like Morgan Advanced Materials, Mantec Technical Ceramics, Prince Materials, CDS group, Precision Ceramics, PCL Ceramics, Foseco, and Trelleborg who are all founding members of the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group.

The growing industry is a regional success story, with the region attracting large amounts of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in some of the region’s high productivity priority sectors that use advanced ceramics. An example is Geely investment in London Taxis in Coventry for the development of electric taxis, which are dependent on improved battery technology that relies on advanced ceramics.

The money by the government will accelerate this growth and will be used to create a world-leading industrial and academic research and development programme over the next four years, creating a cluster of new businesses in the Midlands and strengthening the supply chain in the region, resulting in thousands of new jobs.

The SIPF funding, combined with partner investment and the creation of new business opportunities, will together make the programme a £42.1 million project.

From this, the region’s advanced ceramics sector will only go from strength to strength. The region thus is set to become a global leader in this growing and crucial sector.

[1] Grandview (2017). Biotechnology Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Health, Food & Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environment, Industrial Processing Bioinformatics), By Technology, And Segment Forecasts, 2018 – 2025

This blog was written by Ben Brittain, Policy & Data Analyst, City-REDI / WMREDI, University of Birmingham. 

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI / WMREDI or the University of Birmingham.

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