The new engineering hall has been opened at the Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park (TAMP), Middlesbrough as part of the wider Materials Integrity Centre ERDF project.
The hall, which has been funded by Tees Valley Combined Auhtority, is at the same site as TWI’s existing facilities near Middlesbrough, providing local companies with facilities to develop and test new products and materials, including inspection technologies for the hydrogen economy.
It serves as a collaborative space for decarbonisation initiatives between TWI and Teesside University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre.
In this shared facility, joint research bids will be assembled and, upon success, executed within the Engineering Hall.
Anticipated as a catalyst for technology readiness levels (TRL) four to six -research excellence and breakthroughs - the engineering hall stands poised to drive impactful advancements in the green reindustrialisation of the Tees Valley.
This is the latest stage in the Materials Integrity Centre ERDF project, which itself ties into the strategic economic plan of the Tees Valley Combined Authority and Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership to maximise investment in the region.
With SMEs, innovation, and individuals placed at the centre of the region’s growth ambitions, the Tees Valley Social Economic Plan (SEP) seeks to create 25,000 jobs and add £2.8bn to the economy by 2026. This will be achieved by turning the area into a high-value, low-carbon, diverse and inclusive economy.
The opening of the state-of-the-art laboratory and world-leading test facility underpins applied research and technology activities, delivering specialist materials and engineering support to local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Tees Valley, and helping them develop new products and processes, as well as offering access to new technology markets to grow the local economy.
Mihalis Kazilas, Business Group Manager of TWI’s Materials Performance and Integrity Group said: “The new engineering hall combines the industrial expertise of TWI in the area of non-metallics testing and evaluation with the academic excellence of Teesside University in net-zero technologies.
“Together, TWI and Teesside University will support local businesses and enterprises in the development of new products and services that will contribute to the growth objectives of the Tees Valley Social Economic Plan.”
Dr Gari Harris, Director of Teesside University’s Net Zero Industry Innovation Centre, said: “Delivering a just transition to a net zero economy is at the heart of Teesside University’s mission.
“Therefore, we are delighted to be a part of this ambitious project which is set to deliver real impact in supporting businesses to transition from fossil fuels and to develop support innovation within green technology.”
Together, TWI and Teesside University will support local businesses and enterprises in the development of new products and services that will contribute to the growth objectives of the Tees Valley Social Economic Plan.
The facility has been supported by £1,425,000 of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority. Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "This fantastic facility is further proof of how our area is leading the way in developing the greener, cleaner innovative industries of the future such as hydrogen.”
“The engineering hall will play a vital role in supporting small and medium sized businesses and supercharge our ambition to become a global centre for net zero energy and innovation. It will also support more of the high-paid well-skilled jobs and crucial investment we need to drive our local economy forward."
As well as delivering the new facility, the Materials Integrity Centre programme has seen the creation of a dedicated research group focused on non-destructive testiung (NDT) and the expansion of a modelling group who are dedicated to investigating materials' performance and failure.
Advancing knowledge and technology transfer in the fields of NDT, modelling, and hydrogen-related materials technologies allows TWI to expand its efforts in supporting SMEs and contributing to the sustainable growth and competitiveness of the region's materials-based sectors.
In addition to these research and modelling activities, the Materials Integrity Centre delivered direct technology transfer activities to local SMEs through the Materials Integrity Technology Transfer (MITT) programme. This provided free support to SMEs to assist in the introduction of new technologies as well as problem-solving and knowledge-sharing initiatives to enhance the quality and reliability of products.
The MITT project team completed 84 individual projects, increasing employment figures at the supported companies, while forging interaction between SMEs and research institutions, and helping bring new products to market.
By bringing together research excellence, technology transfer and world-class facilities in a collaborative effort, the Materials Integrity Centre has supported the growth of businesses in the Tees Valley region and helped to meet the aims of the Tees Valley Social Economic Plan to enhance productivity, competitiveness, and innovation among businesses in the region.
Located at Teesside Advanced Manufacturing Park (TAMP), Middlesbrough, the MIC is a component of the Tees Valley Centre for Materials Integrity Programme, which is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme, 2014-2020 and Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA).