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Transforming Foundation Industries challenge

Foundation Industries produce 75% of all the material on the planet and are vital for the UK’s manufacturing and construction sectors. Combined, they are worth about £52 billion to the UK economy and they all have common challenges.

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Transforming Foundation Industries challenge

What is the Transforming Foundation Industries challenge?

Foundation Industries (comprising cement, glass, ceramics, paper, metals and bulk chemicals sectors) produce 75% of all the material on the planet and are vital for the UK’s manufacturing and construction sectors. Combined, they are worth about £52 billion to the UK economy – larger than the aerospace sector. They have common challenges:

  • Consumption of raw materials and energy use, lead to significant operating costs and environmental impact, including 10% of all UK CO2 emissions
  • They operate in an internationally competitive landscape with long investment cycles
  • The benefits from innovation are not shared throughout the supply chain, reducing incentive to invest

Manufacturing equipment can last for decades making upgrade or replacement difficult. This ‘locks in’ inefficiencies which reduces the ability of UK businesses to compete with newer equipment installed in emerging economies.

There is an opportunity for innovations in technology that will improve the competitiveness of UK Foundation Industries, while reducing the sectors environmental burden.

What are the aims of the challenge?

This challenge focuses on using innovation to reduce energy and resource use within the foundation industries.

This will begin the transformation of the sector so that it can contribute to the UK meeting its commitment to reduce its carbon emissions (NetZero). The economic benefit of this is two-fold:

  • Securing jobs for the future across the UK: The sector provides almost 500,000 skilled jobs in 31,400 firms, mainly in areas outside of London and the South East
  • Anchoring high value manufacturing in the UK: these sectors underpin high value manufacturing and without them, the UK will become less competitive

Further aims:

  • Provide anchor investment facility to accelerate development of promising clean glass technologies
  • Industry-led research into new ways to reduce waste and energy use
  • University-led research into radical new technologies
  • Develop a common identity to better address the challenges meeting the sector
  • Partner with the financial sector to encourage greater investment in fast-moving technology companies that can reduce the environmental impact of the sector

What is the investment?

UK Research and Innovation is investing £66 million in a partnership with businesses in sustainable technologies that reduce the environmental impact of the Foundation Industries - Cleantech for heavy industries. This is to ensure that these sectors remain competitive and are ready to meet the government commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

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