England is a world pioneer in the advanced materials sector, which covers composites, plastic, nanomaterials, ceramics, and alloy and steel production, with its cutting edge technology and research. Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Bath, Bristol and Sheffield are just some of the locations leading the way in advanced materials.
We are known for our academic excellence in materials science. The UK comes fourth in the world in the industry, is home to five per cent of the top education establishments and attracts £95 million of funding in the field every year. Cambridge, Surrey and Nottingham universities and Imperial College London top the tables in material technology.
There are some exciting plans in the composites sector in the UK. These include a composites and biotechnology 'national skills academy' initiative to establish training providers to champion industry growth. A new £25m National Composites Centre has also been set up at Bristol and Bath Science Park to lead the way in technical development.
These days the steel industry leans towards specialist steel production, like stainless steel. English metallurgist, Harry Brearley, the son of a Sheffield steelworker, discovered rustless, or stainless steel in 1913. Sheffield's steel legacy stands firm at the huge converted steelworks, Magna Science Adventure Centre, where corporate guests can socialise between old steelworks gadgets like hulking hooks, cupolas and cranes.
Stoke-on-Trent remains a hub for cutting-edge ceramics. Recent inventions include an energy-saving thermal insulation material, Ultralite.
England's advanced engineering prowess is recognised worldwide. The Shangang Group from China commissioned Sheffield Forgemasters International to build a revolutionary five-metre wide, 1,000 tonne plate mill stand which can produce steel plates between 1500mm and 4900mm wide at 7.3 metres per second.