MICG looks back at first year of £18.27 million SIPF project

The Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group (MICG) is marking the first year of a research project which is set to create thousands of jobs across the region over the next decade.

The MICG secured £18.27 million government funding, provided through UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund (SIPF), in October last year, after it was revealed in June 2021 that the group’s bid had been successful.

So far £2.9 million has been invested in equipment to create the AMRICC Centre, an open access pilot line for the advanced ceramics sector, which will be the legacy from the SIPF programme, and 17 research and development projects have been forged, to continue exploring solutions to current and future advanced ceramics challenges.

The funding has also helped to create eight new academic researcher positions, nine highly skilled positions in industry and kickstarted a cohort of materials degree apprentices within the partner companies.

The MICG consortium is made up of blue-chip companies including Rolls-Royce, Morgan Advanced Materials and Foseco, as well as SMEs including Lucideon, Precision Ceramics and AEON Engineering – together with the universities of Birmingham, Leicester and Loughborough.

The consortium was established to support and submit the Strength in Places funding bid and to position the Midlands and North Staffordshire at the centre of the global advanced ceramics industry, creating a conduit for collaboration between industry and academia.

The SIPF funding, combined with partner investment and the creation of new business opportunities, will together make the “Midlands Advanced Ceramics for Industry 4.0” a £42.1 million programme. 

It is also set to unlock further investment from MICG’s partners, including opening-up opportunities for an Advanced Ceramics Campus, a 130,000 sq ft development, proposed for Staffordshire.

The campus will make the scheme an £80 million-plus project in total, and ultimately contribute towards the growth of 4,200 jobs in the region over the next decade.  

Dr Cathryn Hickey, of MICG, said: “This is a long-term strategic programme with defined aims to open-up global markets, drive innovation and harness the talents and skills of the workforce in the Midlands.

“So far, MICG networking events have attracted the attention of more than 170 advanced ceramics professionals and key stakeholders, while hours of technical discussion have helped drive the momentum of the programme through to delivery.

“Now, just a year after receiving the first stage of £5.4 million of the SIPF funding, we are seeing our plans start to take shape, innovation development programmes are happening, while jobs and opportunities have already been created for people in the region.”