The glass corridor – delivering world-class glass research in the northern powerhouse

Glass Futures is one of only 24 projects to be awarded a seedcorn grant by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop a full bid to progress its aim to create ‘The Glass Corridor’. This initiative will serve to complement and underpin Glass Futures.

The aim of ‘The Glass Corridor’ is to strengthen and align existing industrial and academic expertise within the Sheffield/Leeds region to create a globally recognised centre of excellence, or hub, in glass technology and manufacturing. This will have the capability to drive significant improvements in productivity and sustainability within the UK glass industry.

This hub will align and develop existing expertise to catalyse the development of new technologies across the glass manufacturing supply chain (raw materials, melting, forming, inspection, down-stream value-added processing, recycling and zero-carbon manufacturing of “carbon reducing products” — PVs, wind-turbines and high-efficiency glazing systems).

Raising the profile of the region

In unifying and aligning the existing centres of glass expertise, the hub will further raise the profile of the region as a focal point enhancing cross-sectoral engagement, both nationally and internationally, strengthening the region’s capability to draw international expertise and funding into the region to drive productivity and sustainability in the regional glass sector. Over 80% of UK glass manufacturing and tier 1 supply chain is in this region.

Co-ordinating the region’s existing commercial and R&D activities

The new hub will enable co-ordination of the existing commercial and R&D activities within the region’s glass sector, currently uncoordinated. This is envisaged through a local entity/hub to facilitate knowledge exchange between universities, businesses and local policy makers. The key technical expertise will remain in the current technical centres and in the new proposed Glass Futures centres in Leeds and St Helen’s. The hub will provide a focal point to align the work of these centres, align the expertise to industry needs, attract/leverage funding (commercial and grants) and direct training activities across the region.

The hub will form an entity to act as a focal point through which other Technology Centres (Sheffield Hallam, Leeds and Sheffield Universities and Glass Technology Services) across the UK can be engaged to harness relevant expertise/technology to support and commercialise developments led by partners within the Sheffield/Leeds region, and to learn from and share best practice within other industries.

A globally unique pool of expertise in glass technology

This initiative will create a globally unique pool of expertise in glass technology, spanning the entire glass supply chain/manufacturing processes that will be a magnet to attract global investment into R&D and the creation of new businesses in the Sheffield/Leeds region.

About the Strength in Places Fund

Led by UK Research and Innovation, Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a new competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant regional growth.

24 bids have been awarded seedcorn funding in Wave 1 to develop full stage bids that will be submitted to a closed call in September 2019.