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“Academic excellence with industrial relevance has always been at the heart of what we do….it’s what makes us unique”

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya Kt CBE FREng FRS
Regius Professor of Manufacturing
Chairman and Founder

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Universities of Warwick and Birmingham partner to boost West Midlands economy

Ways to reduce social inequality in the West Midlands and boost productivity will be researched thanks to an £800,000 research project, led by Warwick Business School with WMG at the University of Warwick, and City-REDI at the University of Birmingham.

WMG and Warwick Business School from the University of Warwick and City-REDI at the University of Birmingham will examine the factors that constrain firm-level innovation and productivity across the region, with a particular focus on the role of skills shortages, the importance of supply chains and impacts of foreign direct investment.

They will also work in collaboration with regional stakeholders, including the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Midlands Engine, five Local Enterprise Partnerships and private sector firms including Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin. More widely, the project will connect with the CBI - building on their recent productivity work- the Chambers of Commerce, TUC and Unite.

As well as contributing to the local industrial strategy the research team will examine trade-offs between policies and practices which target improvements in productivity against other development goals.

In particular, understanding how productivity improvements and related policies can contribute to inclusive growth which reduces inequalities within and across regions, or heighten such inequalities is a central aim of the research.

Professor Nigel Driffield, the leader of the project from WBS, University of Warwick said:

“This is an exciting project that will look to feed into the region’s industrial strategy. The West Midlands is known as the manufacturing hub of the UK, but it needs to build on this reputation, attracting more investment and more jobs to the area, particularly with the threat of Brexit looming.

"This project has three stands: researching regional Differences, skills and inclusive growth, plus investigating investment decisions, foreign investment and trade; and finally evaluating analytics enabled supply chains and operational productivity.”

Professor Janet Godsell of WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“For over 25 years it has been recognised that supply chains compete and not individual companies, but the focus has remained on company productivity.

"This project provides an opportunity to create a step change in productivity, by working with end-to-end supply chains supporting the regions automotive and infrastructure sectors, to improve end-to-end supply chain productivity.”

Director of City-REDI and project lead for Birmingham, Professor Simon Collinson, said:

“I am very pleased to be working with our partners at Warwick University on a project that is so critical to the future economic well-being of the region. The UK lags behind other countries in terms of average productivity and the West Midlands lags behind the UK average.

"But we cannot focus on productivity in isolation of other challenges. By contributing to a reduction in social inequality, alongside promoting economic growth, we are continuing the legacy of the University of Birmingham as a long-standing anchor institution in the Birmingham city-region.”

Professor Anne Green from City-REDI said:

“The foci of the research at City-REDI on skills and inclusive growth issues is in line with key concerns with regional policy makers.”

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Smarter, greener, cleaner steel: £35 million boost for research to transform UK steel industry

A smart, green and clean steel industry will come a giant step closer thanks to a new £35 million research network, announced today, which will see steelmakers and University experts work together on a seven-year research programme to transform the UK steel sector.

The network, called SUSTAIN, is to transform the whole steel supply chain, making it cleaner, greener and smarter, and more responsive to the fast-changing needs of customers. Its work will be concentrated on two areas:

· Zero waste iron and steelmaking, with the aim of making the industry carbon-neutral by 2040: Steel is already the world’s most recycled material, but the network will investigate new ways of making the industry’s processes and products even greener, such as harvesting untapped energy sources, capturing carbon emissions and re-processing societal and industrial waste streams.

· Smart steel processing: like any 21st century industry, steelmaking involves masses of data. SUSTAIN will develop new ways of acquiring and using this data to improve the steels produced as well as in new metallurgical processes, which can deliver bespoke high tech products.

Steel is the most widely-used structural material in the world. If a product isn’t made of steel it’s made using steel. Steel is at the heart of UK manufacturing sectors such as the car industry, construction, packaging and defence. It is an indispensable component of the UK’s future national infrastructure such as transport, communications and energy, and for high-tech 21st century industries, from energy-positive buildings to wind turbines and electric vehicles.

The work of SUSTAIN is projected to:

- Double UK steel manufacturers’ gross value added (GVA) by 2030

- Boost jobs in the industry to 35,000

- Increase productivity by 15%

SUSTAIN involves more than twenty partners across the UK steel industry: companies, trade bodies, research organisations and academic experts including WMG, University of Warwick. The network is being supported by £12.5M investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, as one of their Future Manufacturing Research Hubs, along with significant investment from the steel companies within the UK.

The announcement is a landmark as it is the first time that UK steel producers and representatives from the manufacturing sector have lined up behind a co-ordinated programme of research. It is also the largest ever single investment in steel research by a UK research council.

The plan is that SUSTAIN will be a seed from which much wider research and innovation will grow, drawing on expertise across UK academia and beyond.

Professor Claire Davis, from WMG, University of Warwick comments: “The UK has a rich tradition of research excellence and innovation in steel metallurgy. SUSTAIN will bring together leading research groups in this area, as well as introducing new expertise in big data and supply chain innovation, to work collaboratively with the UK industry.

The network will be able to tackle the large issues facing the steel industry, particularly in becoming low energy, carbon neutral, dynamic and responsive to customer needs. It is an exciting time to be working on steel as there are opportunities to contribute to making the planet a greener place.”

Dr Cameron Pleydell-Pearce, steel expert at Swansea University and SUSTAIN’s deputy director, said: “This news is a massive vote of confidence in the steel industry. It will support the industry’s vision for a responsible, innovative and creative future. We are already on the road to clean, green and smart steelmaking, but this is another giant step forward.

Research and innovation are the bedrock of a modern steel industry. This network represents almost the whole UK steel sector, with researchers and companies working together on an unprecedented scale. Here in Swansea we’re proud to lead it.”

Gareth Stace, UK Steel Director General, said: "This new boost of innovation funding into the sector is a vital piece of the puzzle to help deliver our vision of a cutting-edge, vibrant, and sustainable steel industry in the UK.

The future success of our sector rests on our ability to remain at the forefront of product and process innovation, delivering the new steel products demanded by our customers and society. This new hub will enable us to do just that.”

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Grad job applications now open for WMG

Grad jobs are now being advertised at WMG, University of Warwick. There are 13 jobs available starting September 2019, which will be working on projects such as Automation Systems, Energy Innovation and Smart Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

The closing date to apply is the 15th March 2019.

Following the successful launch of the WMG Graduate Development Programme last year, WMG has launched recruitment for its 2019 graduate programme, with 13 places available to graduates from all Higher Education Institutes.

The programme is designed for aspiring engineers and follows three pathways – Automation Systems, Energy Innovation and Smart Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. The Graduate Trainee’s will be working alongside academics, and industry partners.

Starting in September 2019, the programme will last for two years during which graduates will complete five/six different placements, each offering the opportunity to develop their engineering skills and knowledge in key areas, with the chance to apply these skills to real-world research and development.

On completion of the scheme, the graduates will be equipped with the skills to apply for roles such as a Project Engineer or Project Manager, or pave the way for future studies such as a Master’s or PhD.

WMG Graduate Trainee Engineer Puja Unadkat joined the scheme following her graduation from the University of Warwick:

"There is so much support offered here, not just from your peers, but from your mentors and managers too. There are regular discussions on how you can develop and enhance your skills and knowledge to steer your career in your chosen direction. There is such a variety of opportunities offered, such as the chance to attend professional conferences, as well as gaining a project management qualification. Progression and development is at the heart of the organisations culture and it really shows.”

WMG Graduate Trainee Engineer Ben Ayre, also joined the scheme last year following his graduation from the University of Warwick.

“My highlights so far have included working on multi mullion pound projects with a variety of organisations to achieve real impact. I’ve also had the opportunity to undertake professional development courses and qualifications. It has also been great to have the support of the other graduates, making the transition between university and work life easier. I would advise anyone who is wants to work in a varied team working on lots of cutting edge projects to apply as it is an excellent scheme.”

Trainees benefit from a training salary of £26,243 a year.

You can find out more about the graduate development programme at our dedicated careers page www.warwick.ac.uk/WMGGraduateScheme

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WMG and GEFCO to revolutionise automotive battery supply chain

A new innovation hub is being launched at WMG in partnership with GEFCO today. The Hub will focus on cutting edge research into the future of automotive supply chains, the dual challenges of electrification and using and reusing resources for as long as possible.

The hub is closely linked to the EPSRC(Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Warwick.

The first two projects will research new circular business models for the supply, refurbishment and re-use of batteries for the electric automotive supply chain, and the use of new technologies to design fully-traceable and re-usable packaging.

A third project will examine the opportunities for logistics service providers to expand their business models to offer supply chain finance complimentary to out-sourcing of material and information flows.

Professor Janet Godsell, from the Supply Chain Research Group, WMG, University of Warwick will head up the new hub, she comments: “Digital technology provides an opportunity to re-think the way in which we do business, and blurs the traditional distinction between manufacturing and logistics. A distinction further blurred as we seek to develop new business models that more holistically consider reuse, repair, remanufacture and recycling.”

Helen Grover, Human Resources Director at GEFCO UK comments:

“We are delighted to work with GEFCO to launch their Supply Chain Innovation Hub at WMG, University of Warwick. This £180k investment will support GEFCO to provide leading edge digital supply chain solutions that meet their customer needs in a cost effective and sustainable way.

“We are looking forward to working with WMG, University of Warwick because it allows us to be involved with cutting edge research and puts us at the forefront of the future of sustainable manufacture and logistics. The partnership sits perfectly with our company ethos of always seeking new innovative solutions to maintain our growth and to improve the way our industry works”.

ENDS

About GEFCO
At GEFCO, we believe long-lasting cooperation with partners is the key to shared growth. Building on 69 years of expertise and a strong heritage in the automotive industry, we design smart, flexible solutions for complex supply chains. Today, the GEFCO Group is the European leader in automotive logistics, and a top 10 global partner in multimodal supply chain solutions.

The Group is present in 47 countries, includes over 300 destinations in its current network and employs 13,000 people globally. GEFCO reported a turnover of €4.4 billion in 2017.

GEFCO has been present in the UK since 1981. With headquarters located in Coventry, GEFCO UK employs 600 people in 18 sites. https://uk.gefco.net/ 

Website: www.gefco.net; Twitter: @GEFCO_Group

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