Tata Steel’s new research centre at the University of Warwick’s Science Park was officially opened today, marking phase one of the steelmaker’s relocation its UK R&D work to the university’s campus.

Engineers and researchers will be working on new steel coatings, including graphene, at the company’s new advanced coatings research laboratories where they will develop a range of new materials to meet the future needs of customers in areas such as renewable energy generation and more fuel-efficient cars and planes.

Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, chairman of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, and Hans Fischer, chief technical officer of Tata Steel’s European operation, opened the new centre.

“Advanced steels research is crucial for the nation, and for manufacturing. This move shows Tata Steel’s long term commitment to research and development within the UK,” said Lord Bhattacharyya.

Hans Fischer said that the new facility demonstrated Tata’s determination to develop innovative products to help its customers become more competitive. “We will be working with world-class scientists and researchers to create new steels for customers who are shaping the low-carbon technologies of tomorrow,” he said, adding that he was delighted to be strengthening Tata’s ties with UK academia.

The new centre will house a combination of metallurgists, product engineers, data scientists, researchers and technicians.

In the next development phase further laboratory facilities will be built, ultimately leading to the establishment of a hub for advanced steel research which will accommodate Tata Steel’s three professorial chairs in steel research at Warwick, together with their academic research teams and an array of research equipment.

John Collingham, surface engineering department manager at Tata, and one of the first to move into the new building, said that the university campus was a dynamic and inspiring place to work, with many new buildings under construction, including the National Automotive Innovation Centre and the Advanced Steel Research Centre. “Our new facility and our team of highly motivated and enthusiastic researchers will be the catalyst for a new generation of innovation,” he said.