Bessemer Society convenes materials innovators in Manchester

The Henry Royce Institute was delighted to support the Bessemer Society Manchester Dinner which took place at the end of May.

The evening, which was themed “New and Innovative Materials” included representatives from  North West-based companies in the value chain who can be key in helping pull through new innovations in materials, alongside colleagues from Royce Partners including the University of Manchester Innovation Factory (MIF), the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Tata Steel Limited.

The event started with a range of insightful introductions from representatives of organisations who are both enabling and disrupting the materials innovation sector and its themes included productivity and innovation; re-industrialisation; the hydrogen economy, sustainable materials, and the role of industry champions.

Over dinner, speakers included Professor Richard Jones, Chair in Materials Physics and Innovation Policy at the University of Manchester as well as Associate Vice-President for Innovation & Regional Economic Development, talking about levelling up and the regional economy. Richard Jones re-stated the productivity challenge and reflected on the importance of advanced manufacturing and materials as a priority sector for Greater Manchester.

Maurits van Tol, Chief Executive Catalyst Technologies at Johnson Matthey Plc spoke about how an innovator with a global footprint can have a powerful effect in enabling clusters to form around it. Maurits van Tol also talked about the important HyNet North West project.

Dr. Debashish Bhattacharjee Group Director of Research for Tata Steel, took the opportunity to talk about its Collaboration Agreement with Royce to establish an exciting new UK Centre for Innovation in Advanced Materials.

To conclude Royce CEO Professor David Knowles delivered an address focussed on the Institute’s work with industry partners to develop a National Materials Innovation Strategy, where the focus is on innovation around all classes of materials, not only advanced materials.

During a discussion period at the end of dinner David led a Q&A in which the speakers engaged with the guests with an exchange around the kinds of Government interventions that would be most helpful to materials innovation, how national Technology Organisaitions can best add value to UK research, development and innovation and what is the best balance between working at a national, regional and sectoral level to deliver change.

The founder and driving force of the Society, Alex Stewart, established the network to enable entrepreneurs and scientists with potential solutions to the many challenges the world faces to come together to share insights and opportunities afforded by new technology.

He expressed his grateful acknowledgement for the Manchester dinner’s supporters including:

  • The Henry Royce Institute
  • The University of Manchester Innovation Factory
  • The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre
  • Mewburn Ellis LLP, IP Law
  • Oxford Instruments PLC