Stoke-on-Trent should aim high for a £1 billion-a-year ceramics economy if plans for a Ceramic Park research centre get the go-ahead. That is the message Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton took to a debate he secured in Parliament yesterday. Jack asked the government’s industrial strategy ministers to back plans from business, local government and Staffordshire University to build an international centre of excellence for ceramics research in the Potteries.
Jack argued that Stoke-on-Trent’s unique heritage and industry makes it the perfect location for a UK research centre to lead the global future of advanced ceramics technology. He highlighted the revolutionary advances in modern manufacturing techniques that are boosting demand for ceramic products beyond traditional markets. To name but a few, ceramics are used in the electronic, computing and digital industry, in healthcare – including the use of ceramic nanoparticles in cancer treatment, in cutting-edge defence, and in aerospace materials.
The hoped-for Ceramic Park will be accessible to the public and could also showcase the best in contemporary ceramic art and architecture. It has the potential to be a great attraction for local visitors and international tourists alike – building on the continuing success of some of our visitor destinations – spreading the benefits of a research centre much wider than the academics and industry specialists who would work there.
“A UK research centre for ceramics will keep Global Britain at the forefront of advanced ceramics technology. I want that centre in Stoke-on-Trent – the authentic home of world ceramics. Our international excellence will boost local jobs, improve skills and help increase wage levels. I am calling on government ministers to join the partnership to deliver Ceramic Park, and help us to leverage funding and share expertise from the development of similar industry-sector research centres across the country. Stoke-on-Trent is on the up – and I want us to keep going up so that everyone can benefit from this success.”
Dr Laura Cohen, Chief Executive of the British Ceramic Confederation, said:
“We welcome that Jack Brereton has secured this debate. Innovation in new materials, technology and design is the lifeblood of the UK ceramics industry and the UK has some outstanding world class academic researchers in this area. Networks between industrialists, academics and Innovate UK, such as the Ceramic Innovation Network, are well established and growing. Innovation and the Ceramic Park rightly are a key part of our Ceramic Sector Deal proposal.”
Paul Farmer OBE, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board member, managing director of Wade Ceramics, and president of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said:
“Ceramics is a key sector for our area and it has enormous potential to generate economic growth, boost the UK’s exports and create the highly skilled jobs that will enable our communities to thrive. A Ceramic Park, developed in conjunction with our Enterprise Zone, will bring together innovation, education and leading businesses to unlock this potential. We are delighted that Jack Brereton is championing this crucial industry in Parliament and bringing the ground-breaking Ceramic Park plans to the attention of ministers.”