Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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£22 Million for High-Tech Materials for a Low Carbon Future

£22 Million for High-Tech Materials for a Low Carbon Future

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 26 November 2009

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today announced new investment totalling £22 million to further advance the development of ‘composite’ materials. Composites are increasingly used for their lightweight, super strength properties in aeroplane wings and racing cars.

He used a visit to Williams Formula One’s Oxfordshire to launch the investment and publish the Government’s new Composite Strategy.

The investment is made up of:

£16m for a new National Composites Centre in the Bristol area (£12m from central Government, £4m from the South West Regional Development Agency)£5m for the winning firm’s to develop new composites manufacturing techniques (to be won via the Technology Strategy Board’s new ‘Grand Challenge’ competition, launched today) and £1m upfront funding to help develop challenge bids.

In the ‘UK Composite Strategy’ document Lord Mandelson estimates that the high-value composites market is currently worth about £1 billion to the British economy. The UK offshore composite wind turbine blade and aerospace wing market alone could be worth £22 billion by 2020 – highlighting composites’ low carbon credentials.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said:

“Any modern economy is built on the ability to exploit the opportunities on offer by new and existing high value markets – such as composites.

“Our approach is now to back areas of the economy which have the biggest potential to create wealth and jobs and take advantage of the skills of our people.

“Today’s new strategy will help us to exploit the potential of composite materials which could help us lower carbon emissions, make cost savings by making things which last longer and boost our position globally making the UK the place to produce and develop composites.”

“Government has an irreplaceable role in ensuring that the right conditions are in place to support long term growth. This means investing in the country’s high-tech low carbon future including supporting and investing composites.”

At their simplest level composites are made from at least two materials that together produce a material with much improved properties than its constituent parts.

Lightweight yet super strength composites have been critical to recent British motor racing success and are also used in the manufacture of yachts, civil and military aircraft and will increasingly be used in offshore wind turbine blades.

The new Composites Strategy explains how Government plans to support British firms involved in manufacturing, utilising and exporting composites and composite technology, with the aim of maintaining the UK’s global lead in this growth field. Up to now activity has been too sector specific which has limited the development of a cohesive composites industry and the transfer of technology to the manufacture of other products in other sectors which could be built using composites.

Notes to Editors

1. The UK Composites Strategy published today sets out how Government will support the composites industry by building on previous measures to support this industry. A co-ordinated approach bringing together Government, the regions, industry, research institutes and academia will provide the focus needed to take full advantage of the commercial opportunities. To view the strategy please go to

2. The new National Composites Centre, based in Bristol area, will work across all sectors with an interest in composites, with backing from industry. It will provide manufacturing facilities on an industrial scale, capable of building prototypes to validate design concepts and rapid manufacturing process.

3. The Government’s New Industry, New Jobs policy paper published in April 2009, aims to support areas of the economy which have the potential to see significant growth and make best use of UK talents and expertise. Today’s Composites Strategy is one part of this broader strategy.

4. Find out more about the Technology Strategy Board’s Grand Challenge competition here

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.


BIS Press Office

Clare Keen
Phone: 020 7215 5971

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