The Materials Processing Institute (MPI) has signed a multi-million-pound contract with British Steel, the UK’s second largest steel producer.

The contract, signed on 17 June, will see the Institute providing research and development for up to five years for British Steel’s rail and construction products. British Steel, founded on 1 June 2016 when Greybull Capital acquired Tata Steel’s Long Products business, has four principal sites, at Teesside, Scunthorpe, Hayange and Skinningrove.

Teesside-based MPI is a not-for-profit company, which works with industrial innovators to conduct research for the rail, materials, process and energy sectors. It also continues to make specialist steel at its Normanton facility.

The new contract with British Steel will see the Institute provide research and innovation to support improvements in productivity and performance. The contract was signed weeks after visits to MPI from steelmakers in Germany, Sweden and Slovakia, all seeking to take advantage of the Institute's expertise.

“We are pleased to see the return of the British Steel brand to the UK. After what has been a difficult year for the industry, we can see opportunity and confidence for investors in UK Steel manufacturing," said Chris McDonald, chief executive of the MPI.

John Dale, British Steel's technical director, said that the MPI's long track record in developing technology and world leading expertise will help ensure that British Steel remains a profitable concern, producing high-quality steel.

“After recent uncertainty, the future looks increasingly bright for British Steel," he added, explaining how the MPI will be a key strategic partner for steel and materials innovation in the UK and will support the continued development of British Steel's products and productivity.