Landmark Year for £10 Million Open-Access AMRICC Centre Sees Midlands Vision for Advanced Ceramics Take Shape

Two Staffordshire manufacturers are among the early adopters of a pioneering new £10 million facility, designed to put the Midlands at the forefront of innovation in ceramics and advanced ceramics

Both Churchill China PLC and Johnson Tiles are partnering on projects focused on efficiency and sustainability with The AMRICC Centre, which commenced operation this year to enable organisations to trial new products at commercial pilot scale.

The Staffordshire-based open-access international facility translates materials, processes, and technologies into real-world products and solutions through the commercialisation of innovative ideas, providing the ability to undertake product and process development at an industrially relevant scale.

It includes an equipment suite featuring over 350 pieces of high-value technology, which collectively provide unique capabilities for users - coupled with the expertise of scientists, engineers, data scientists, and computational modellers to turn innovative ideas into market-ready technologies.

The Centre also partners with universities to provide an educational facility to train and develop material scientists for the future.

Stephen Dixon, Managing Director of Johnson Tiles, said: “The AMRICC Centre is a really exciting development.

“Having close-to-hand a facility that enables us to work with some of the best materials scientists, both in the UK and worldwide, and to have a research and development centre on our doorstep that we have easy access to means, for the first time ever, we are in a position to develop and move forward with new material ideas with some of the biggest brains and some of the best facilities.

“I can’t understate how exciting an opportunity that is and what opportunity it gives us as a UK, Stoke-on-Trent-based manufacturer to move to the forefront of development.”

Steve Burns, Churchill China PLC’s Head of Engineering, added: “The AMRICC Centre is pioneering and really innovative.

“It enables us to look at the market and how we can best bring the products to the customer, without risk to the business in terms of trials, errors, production, and processes.

“The information and the tools that are available to us as a business are huge.

The AMRICC Centre is the physical outcome from the Midlands Industrial Ceramics Group’s (MICG) £18.27 million four-year research programme, funded by Government under UK Research and Innovation's flagship Strength in Places Fund in 2021.

Overall financial sponsor Lucideon has championed the Centre, investing over £4 million to support it, including £800,000 to back the initial bid and significant investment to host and manage the facility, through funding and access to industry expertise.

Tony Kinsella, CEO of Lucideon said: “The AMRICC Centre sets the UK well ahead of anything in the world and supports us for the 21st century.

“The equipment allows a unique capability for the ceramics industry for the UK, to allow it to come back to the world-leading position it once used to have.

“Without this investment, the industry would lag against its peers around the world.

“There is no other centre anywhere in the UK, or in fact anywhere in the world, that has the breadth and depth of both the equipment and even more importantly, the human capital to make that equipment viable.

“It's not just about equipment, though, it is about people. Our industry in the UK has suffered for years with a lack of investment in skills and in new talent being attracted to the industry to carry on creating this great industry of the future.

“The AMRICC centre team is creating now pipelines of talent from degree apprentices, all the way through to post-doctoral graduates to create new, educated, ambitious talent for the UK ceramics industry.”

The AMRICC Centre has produced an annual review for 2023, available to view here

CEO of The AMRICC Centre, Dr Cathryn Hickey, said: “The advanced ceramics sector is projected to be worth £143 billion this year globally, and The AMRICC Centre places the region firmly at the forefront of the industry to maximise this opportunity.

“2023 has been a landmark year for us, as we brought the state-of-the-art facility to life, to help secure a global position in this multi-billion-pound marketplace.”

December 2023