Steel giant Tata is considering relocating its UK research efforts – including one of its bases in Rotherham.
News of the rethink came as the Indian-owned company revealed its Swinden Laboratories in Rotherham are to spearhead the start of a multi-million pound programme to develop a new generation of steels.
Meanwhile, Tata is planning to scale back involvement in research on Teesside.
The company says it is talking with a number of potential partners to transform its research centre there into what it describes as a ‘not-for-profit, open-access shared facility’.
Tata has secured £8 million worth of funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to develop new steels for cars, aircraft, rail networks, skyscrapers, mining equipment and power stations.
Announcing its funding success, the group said the research will initially take place in Rotherham.
However, Tata added it was ‘considering where the research will continue over the longer term with a possible relocation to a different UK site in the future’.
About 200 people work at Tata’s Swinden Technology Centre, which has been a hotbed of innovation since it opened its doors 62 years ago.
Successes in recent years have included the development of special armour plate which allows military vehicles to be repaired rapidly and returned to duty after being attacked, steel framed buildings for poverty stricken Indian villages, and ‘silent’ railway lines.
However, some of the laboratories – constructed from 1946 onwards in the grounds of two Victorian country mansions – are showing their age.
Any move is not thought likely for several years.