Plan to grow North’s chemicals sector

Did you know that the North of England’s research strengths in chemical and process industries could help to contribute more than 20billion to the UK economy over the next 20 years?

That’s how much could be generated by taking a range of actions involving research and industry across the region, according to a new report co-written by Durham University and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The Science and Innovation Audit sets out ambitious plans to build on existing strengths in chemical and process industries across the Northern Powerhouse region.

Recommendations include:

  • Improvements to the transfer of technology and skills between industry and universities like Durham;
  • Development and use of new affordable unprocessed materials for use in manufacturing;
  • Increased use of digital technologies;
  • Maximising the use of resources and minimising waste; Speeding up the commercialisation of technology;
  • Leadership for the Northern Powerhouse chemicals cluster, supporting businesses to reach out globally to diversify exports and attract investment;
  • Diversifying supply chains;
  • Providing training to meet the skills needed in the chemical and process industries sector.

Chemical production

Universities would build upon work with business start-up providers and innovation centres such as the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), TWI and the Materials Processing Institute.

The chemical sector in the Northern Powerhouse already contributes 32billion to the UK economy and accounts for nearly 50 percent of the UK’s chemical production.

It contains 38 universities including the N8 partnership of research-intensive universities, which includes Durham.

Materials science

These universities have particular strengths in chemistry, materials science, chemical synthesis, chemical measurement and atmospheric physics.

Such high-quality research and partnership working could deliver innovation in the North of England and contribute towards an additional 23billion output to the UK economy, the audit says.

Process Industries and Surface Science at Durham