Transforming foundation industries challenge



From left to right: Sand destined to the manufacture of cement in a quarry; a worker controlling metal melting in furnaces; facing red bricks stacked on pallets; Beer bottles filling on the conveyor belt in the brewery factory

The UK’s foundation industries are vital for its manufacturing and construction sectors.

The foundation industries are:

  • cement
  • metals
  • glass
  • paper
  • ceramics
  • chemicals.
Young female construction worker

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The foundation industries exist as we know them today thanks to a series of crucial innovations. These allowed them to manufacture materials at a scale and price that economies across the globe could afford.

The foundation industries have continually evolved over the decades to meet our widening needs. Today, around 75% of the materials we see around us have been made by one of these six key industries.

Transforming foundation industries challenge

As we move further into the 21st century, we need to rapidly address the challenges brought about by climate change, and the need for long-term sustainability in all that we do.

Innovation is key to achieving this aim, and is the reason we have established the transforming foundation industries challenge.

Aerial view of diverse people together

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The challenge aims to transform the UK’s foundation industries by:

  • making them internationally competitive
  • securing more jobs throughout the UK
  • growing the sector by 2024 in an environmentally sustainable way.

Our work

The challenge’s programme is addressing barriers affecting the sector in a number of ways. The following are examples of current projects.

Scaling innovation

In partnership with St Helens Council, Liverpool City Region and the not-for-profit company Glass Futures, we are establishing a £57 million open access facility. This will scale up and commercialise sustainable glass manufacture.

Industry-led innovation

We are launching a series of industry-led collaborative research and development competitions. These are focused on cross-sector working, skills, knowledge transfer and adoption, with the aim of transforming the sector’s thinking.

University technology transfer

We are establishing an EPSRC hub, which will connect high-quality innovators from universities with companies that can use their technology in industrial settings.

Supporting innovation

We are helping to coordinate and develop a network across the foundation industries that will remove common barriers to innovation and adoption.

Providing late-stage finance

Through partnerships with private equity institutions, we are leveraging our funding to provide capital for fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises.

Our partners

Our partners include:

Female apprentice engineer working with CNC machine in factory

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All our partners are supporting the development of a vibrant foundation industries community. This includes organising many virtual and face to face workshops and presentations, as well as networking events.

Further information

Read our case studies for details of some of the challenge’s project successes.

The challenge team regularly blogs and provides thought leadership. See what we’re saying on our articles, blogs and reports page, and read our technical and policy reports advocating for change within the foundation industries.

Future Leaders Group

Last updated: 22 June 2022

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