A WORLD-leading research centre in the North-East has helped contribute significant economic gains and job creation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Tees Valley.

The Materials Processing Institute's SME Technology Centre, which currently has nine companies operating from the Institute’s Middlesbrough campus, provides open access technical and commercial support to businesses, ranging from pre-starts to SMEs and multi-nationals.

Since being established in 2015, the SME Technology Centre has:

  • Helped generate more than £11m worth of investment in Tees Valley, including £5m of public sector funding;
  • Assisted more than 125 companies in the region;
  • Supported the creation of over 50 jobs across the region;
  • Contributed to 48 European Regional Development Fund projects, through the Innovate Tees Valley and Business Compass Start-up programmes.

The Innovate Tees Valley Programme provides the platform to help build innovation capacity across all sectors and guides businesses as to how to develop products and services that meet market needs. The Business Compass Start-up Programme helps people in the region who are looking to set up their own business and need advice and supports new businesses in their first year of operation.

A significant research partnership with international steel and industrials group, Liberty, was secured in 2018, which will lead to the creation of 20 new jobs.

The project will be based at the Institute’s Middlesbrough campus and is designed to create a new range of powder alloys ideal for 3D printing of precision components, leading to lighter, more efficiently-manufactured parts with zero waste. This technology opens the door to the mass customisation of complex steel products.

In 2018, the Institute engaged with Intellectual Property service provider Marks & Clerk LLP to deliver patent and support to small businesses through the SME Technology Centre.

The Materials Processing Institute is a materials research and innovation centre, which supports organisations that work in advanced materials, low carbon energy and the circular economy and specialises in the commercialisation of innovation.

Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Our SME Technology Centre has grown to become a thriving hub for businesses and organisations in Tees Valley and beyond. We have delivered significant gains for the regional economy and supported the creation of many jobs through our partnerships with clients and growth programmes in the region.

“The Institute is now home to several innovative and upcoming businesses and our range of services and expertise will continue to support them and local businesses to achieve their objectives and growth ambitions. We look forward to continuing our association with these key partners and plan to deliver further contributions to the regional economy as our SME Technology Centre grows."