£20m Glass Academy with Swarovski to create 100 jobs

Artist's impression of Glass Academy
Artist's impression of Glass Academy
Have your say

Global glass firms including Swarovski are behind plans for a £20m research academy in South Yorkshire set to create 100 jobs.

The Glass Futures project will aim to make breakthroughs in emissions reduction, glass formulation and new high-tech products.

Magna chief executive John Silker

Magna chief executive John Silker

A giant furnace producing 30 tonnes of glass a day will be housed in an unused part of Magna, a former steelworks in Rotherham that is now a visitor attraction.

Industry is set to stump up £10m in ‘cash and kind’ and the hope is that Government will match fund £10m.

Dave Dalton, chief executive of British Glass, one of the partners, said: “The glass industry has amazing potential for growth and, by bringing academics, manufacturers and technology companies together we can grasp that potential and bring real benefits to the UK economy.

“I look forward to seeing the technical leaps and competitive improvement this facility will enable and I am excited to see it coming to fruition so close to the heartland of glass manufacturing, here in Yorkshire.”

The project is the brain-child of the British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation based in Sheffield. As well as Swarovski, it is backed by the world’s leading glass bottle manufacturer Owens Illinois, Goole-based glass manufacturer Guardian Industries, Siemens and Leeds University.

The announcement comes after a £90 glass academy plan unveiled in 2014 failed to take off. The proposal for an all-glass centre of excellence, to stand next to Sheffield University’s Factory 2050 on Sheffield Business Park, was delayed by changes to the original brief.

Industry body British Glass wanted to build a flagship academy to attract talent to a low profile sector beset by an ageing workforce and a lack of government-recognised training qualifications.

Nick Clegg, the then deputy prime minister, announced £5m to kickstart the project in 2014.

An official launch of the new scheme will be held at Magna tomorrow.

Richard Katz, director of Glass Futures, a not-for-profit company, said: “We are very excited to be working with the team at Magna, which is the perfect venue for this project being at the heart of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and part of science education.”

John Silker, chief executive of Magna, said: “This is an incredibly exciting project to be part of. As a former steelworks we are very much at the heart of industry in South Yorkshire and so we are thrilled to host this centre of international importance.”

The plan was to integrate the new furnace into the existing Magna visitor attraction, he added.