Glass Futures gathers momentum across the Northern Powerhouse

This collaboration between industry and academia, mirroring the government’s Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies, is building momentum and should see a launch event in February 2018 and commencement of activity in earnest later this year. 

The initiative, started in Sheffield by the UK glass sector’s trade body British Glass, is set to build a centre of excellence in glass R&D, training and production improvement.

Working with the supply chain, academia and government, Glass Futures will support the Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies. A launch event is planned for 7 February 2018 in the House of Lords when further details will be shared. The event is to be hosted by former BEIS minister Lord Prior and supported by current BEIS ministers, Innovate UK directors, industry leaders and the project team.

Glass Futures plans to construct two hub centres employing dozens of highly skilled staff, creating 100’s of related jobs across the supply-chain. While the sites have not been finalised, one of the hubs is planned in the Liverpool City Region and the other in Yorkshire, between Sheffield and Leeds – placing both within the Northern Powerhouse while benefitting the entire United Kingdom.

The Glass Futures project will also be a key enabler in the delivering the glass industry’s proposed sector deal, which British Glass is coordinating sector input to and which is due to be submitted to government in the coming weeks.

Glass Futures’ aims include assisting glass manufacturing to dramatically reduce carbon emissions (by at least 80%), substantially reduce energy use, and explore alternative raw materials and energy sources. It will also provide a space to develop innovative new products, particularly in healthcare and defence applications.

Household names like Siemens and Swarovski will work alongside glass industry giants including O-I, Encirc, Pilkington and Guardian Glass in this initiative. Leading universities including Leeds, Cambridge, Nottingham, Liverpool, Sheffield Hallam and Swansea will provide the academic knowledge and technical know-how assisting the industry collaboration in this £35M+ project.

Richard Katz, founding director of Glass Futures commented:

“It’s truly amazing that we’ve raised the bar to galvanise industry, academia and government to promote glass manufacturing in the UK to a position of global leadership, with investments coming not just from the UK, but from USA and Europe too. It will be fantastic to position the UK glass industry at the very forefront of global manufacturing excellence and future ambition – a triumph for the sector, the government and the UK.”      

Nick Kirk, British Glass technical director said: 

“It is an exciting time to be part of Glass Futures, shaping the early stages, as it creates an accessible platform to bring together organisations, government departments, universities and business to engage with the glass manufacturing sector. I look forward to us continuing the advancement of glass manufacturing to meet the challenges of the future. In a world of changing economic and social priorities this facility will ensure UK glass manufacturing is not only equipped for the future but will have a leading role in shaping that future.”