For nearly 100 years, Swansea University has been applying its academic expertise to the metal industries. This is a new era for steel, and our research and input is more crucial than ever. We are working hand in hand with key players, including Tata Steel, to solve today’s industry challenges and discover new opportunities.

How steel innovation at Swansea is boosting industry - Swansea University

Swansea University was founded to meet the needs of the metal industries and prides itself on its long-term partnerships with business.  One of the University's strongest and most enduring partnerships is with Tata Steel. 

Swansea University’s relationship with Tata is an example of a regional centre of excellence and high tech cluster linking the local supply chain in new research projects, commercial opportunities, funding, training and further collaborations. 

The University links with Tata Steel and other organisations through a number of projects:

Swansea University-led project SPECIFIC designed the UK’s first energy-positive office.  The office, which generates more solar energy than it consumes, opened at Swansea University in June last year.  The ‘buildings as power stations’ concept has already been shown to work.  Right next to the Active Office is the Active Classroom, the UK’s first energy-positive classroom.  Also built by SPECIFIC, this was recently named Project of the Year by the RICS Wales.  In its first year of operation, the Active Classroom generated more than one and half times the energy it consumed.

Steel and Metals Institute (SaMI)
In February last year, a major step was taken to future-proof steel in Wales and the UK with the opening of the new Steel and Metals Institute (SaMI) at Swansea University.  The world-leading research and innovation centre works in collaboration with industry and other UK and global centres of excellence to drive innovation in products and performance.  In May last year, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) awarded the Institute £3 million of capital funding to support its vision of delivering a 21st-century steel industry.

Materials and Manufacturing Education Training and Learning (METaL)
The Materials and Manufacturing Education Training and Learning (METaL) scheme, led by Swansea University’s College of Engineering is a work-based learning programme that provides funded training for the existing materials and manufacturing workforce in Wales. 

In April 2018, Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford announced an extra £1.4m of EU funds for METaL which will enable the scheme to help more than 400 people gain technical skills in new and emerging sectors, such as energy and power, smart manufacturing, materials engineering, circular economy as well as corrosion and coatings technology. It will also support an extra 60 companies in North, West Wales and the South Wales Valleys.

Virtual factory
In September last year, the University announced that developing and testing new steel alloys will be up to 100 times faster, allowing new products to reach the market more quickly, thanks to £7 million of funding for a new “virtual factory” being developed by Swansea University, in partnership with Tata Steel and WMG, at the University of Warwick.

Kubal-Wraith Ltd
Swansea University spin-out company Kubal-Wraith Ltd is currently developing new technology which allows steelmakers to monitor in real time the temperature and chemical composition in molten metal furnaces, saving each steel plant up to £4.5 million a year.  The new technology won the Materials Science Venture Prize awarded by The Worshipful Company of Armourers and Brasiers worth £25,000.  Swansea University is the first institution to have won this prestigious award twice, both times for its pioneering work on steel.

A smart, green and clean steel industry will come a giant step closer thanks to a new £35 million research network which will see steelmakers and university experts work together on a seven-year research programme to transform the UK steel sector. The network, called SUSTAIN, is led by Swansea University partnered with the Universities of Sheffield and Warwick, and involves more than twenty partners across the UK steel industry: companies, trade bodies, academic experts and research organisations.  It is supported by a £10 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council as it will be one of their Future Manufacturing Research Hubs. 

How we can help you

Today we are at the heart of steel innovation in south Wales and can offer:

  • access to 100 steel research experts;
  • a location in the industry’s heartland;
  • state-of-the-art equipment for testing, imaging and analysis;
  • links with other universities’ research experts

We listen to business needs and have developed effective, strategic collaborations that are mutually beneficial. 

We can assist with product innovation within renewable materials, fuels and chemicals; medicine; and health and social care. 

We can also help develop and enhance the leadership skills of owners, managers and key decision-makers of businesses, and we can help make your IP a commercial success.

Please contact us today our Business Engagement team to find out how Swansea University could help your organisation.


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