The UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, has awarded the Materials Processing Institute £22m to deliver a five-year research and innovation programme to revolutionise the steel and metals sector.

The Teesside-based, not-for-profit Institute, acknowledged by the British Government as the UK's innovation centre for steel and metals, will focus on increasing productivity and transforming environmental sustainability.

Projects that will benefit from the award will include research and development into low carbon, electric and hydrogen-based steelmaking, scrap recycling and new processes to allow UK steel to transition to a sustainable and green industry.

The Institute will also ramp up the development and commercialisation of technologies in SME supply chains, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, to increase productivity and product capability in addition to developing new technologies for the extraction and recycling of rare metals.

In addition, the programme will provide support to the South Tees Development Corporation and the Tees Valley local industrial strategy.

The chancellor’s announcement also supports Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen’s commitment to bring steelmaking back to the region early this decade.

Nationally, research at the Institute will better equip British steelmakers to meet domestic demand for finished steel which is a significant growth opportunity for the UK steel sector as well as helping it overcome barriers created by technology trends.

The Institute has worked with global steel and materials industries, including Tata Steel, British Steel and Liberty Steel, and claims it has delivered cutting edge research and innovation in advanced materials, low carbon energy, the circular economy and digital technologies.

Chris McDonald, chief executive officer of the Materials Processing Institute said: “Steel and metals are foundation industries essential for Britain’s manufacturing success and sovereign capability."

McDonald said that the Institute is hugely grateful for the support of Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Redcar MP Jacob Young for making the case to the chancellor and ministers. "Their role, plus the advocacy of former Redcar MP Anna Turley and Middlesbrough South MP Simon Clarke, has paid off for the region and British industry,” he said.