A centre for industrial materials research has won the backing of an MP and a prospective parliamentary candidate as it bids to cement its position as the UK’s centre for research.
The Materials Processing Institute (MPI), which was first founded almost 70 years ago, evolved to become the research and development arm, firstly of British Steel and more recently Tata Steel, before returning to its independent status in November of last year.
The Institute, based in Teesside, is set to become the UK’s centre for industrial materials research and has opened its doors to companies outside of the steel sector, to make use of its top class research and development facilities.
Iain Wright, the MP for Hartlepool and Shadow Minister for Industry, joined Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Anna Turley – whose Redcar constituency would cover the Institute’s South Bank headquarters – in a meeting with MPI Managing Director and CEO Chris McDonald.
Mr McDonald spoke in depth about plans to have the Institute developed as a Catapult Centre for UK industry, and was encouraged by the feedback he got from the Labour duo.
Mr McDonald said: “I felt it was a very productive meeting and I thank both Iain and Anna for taking time out of their busy schedules to pay us a visit.
“With the General Election looming I’m fully aware that they cannot make promises, but they both did repeatedly say throughout our meeting that the Institute is recognised locally, nationally and internationally.
“They see us as a big player, and Iain said we could prove to be very important in helping to shape Government policy on industrial supply chains.
“They also asked me what our role would be in a Catapult system, and what we could offer differently that isn’t already in place.
“I explained the importance of the work we do in providing innovation support to the UKs foundation industries and materials producers.
“The success of this sector is vital to generating growth in high value manufacturing and the Institute helps these industries to be globally competitive.”
Mr Wright said: “We need to step up and think about our economic future because other nations are snapping at our heels, and how we can use materials in a smarter way.
“I want the MPI to thrive, because locally, nationally and internationally it is vital.”
Anna Turley added: “It is always fantastic to come to the Institute and see the brilliant work that is being done here.
“I totally support the future of the processing industry in this area. It is the beating heart of the UK economy and I will do all I can to support it.”
While the organisation still undertakes a substantial amount of project work for Tata Steel, it believes becoming an independent not-for-profit entity once again will not only benefit its customers, but UK trade in general.