Creating Knowledge Conference – Future Economies 1

Gerard Ekhart – Sheffield Business School
Made in Europe – Manufacturing location decisions for the 21st century

The central research question of the Made in Europe thesis is: which location factors need to be considered by Europe’s manufacturing industry to survive the 21st century?

The research applied a pragmatic mixed methods approach. Primary research was a Delphi study using an expert panel of industrial elites from capital intensive manufacturing sectors.

The key findings of the research are:

  1. Manufacturing location factors: in the coming decade, the critical location factors for manufacturing industries are (1) a stable, tax friendly and favourable governmental ecosystem, (2) the access to end markets combined with (3) the availability of high skilled labour
  2. Manufacturing strategy: is no longer based on a focus on ‘cost minimization’ but on ‘value creation’
  3. Manufacturing location decisions: have in the past often failed as a result of insufficient preparation, cultural insensitivity and a short-term focus. Applying experience and intuition from a diverse stakeholder group, is expected to deliver the best results
  4. Government industrial policy: although ‘government’ is not a critical driver of manufacturing strategies, it’s policy can play a decisive role in manufacturing location decisions and development of industrial agglomerations

Based on the research findings, a new decision framework is presented, the Made in Europe manufacturing location decision circle, as a synthesis of the main findings, translated into a model for both academic purposes and practical business application, highlighting the importance of geo-political factors in international location decisions.


Chris Whiteoak – Faculty of Health and Wellbeing
Efficient Construction of Complex Cyclic Compounds by Employing Metal Catalysis

Many everyday pharmaceutical and agrochemical compounds contain important cyclic motifs within their structures. In order to realise these structures in a sustainable and cost-effective way and also expand the number of drugs available, novel methodologies for their preparation must be developed. Traditionally, new chemical bond forming procedures have been reliant on palladium catalysis, for which the 2010 Nobel prize was awarded, indicating the significance of this technology. The chemical industry contributes a significant percentage towards UK GDP and new developments will help maintain and grow this economic contribution in the future. This presentation will highlight our recent results using cheaper, more sustainable cobalt in catalytic bond forming reactions and our novel, simplified routes to otherwise challenging to obtain cyclic compounds which are the basis for a number of pharmaceutical compounds.


Wei Deng, Charikleia Spathi, Richard Wright, Chris Boden-Hook, Daniel J. Backhouse, Robert Ireson, Martyn Marshall, and Paul A. Bingham – Faculty of Science Technology and Arts, Materials and Engineering Research Institute
Alternative raw materials and reformulation for reducing the environmental impact of economic glass manufacture

In line with the UK Glass Decarbonisation Roadmap 2050 project, which aims to reduce energy demand and CO2 emissions from glass manufacturing, a series of studies have been carried out.

One project (Briquette 1) that was funded by EPSRC & IUK focused on a by-product/waste arising during recycling of container glass: glass fines, which were briquetted and recycled as glass making raw materials for energy and CO2 saving. Relevant parameters including redox conditions and melting processes were controlled and it was demonstrated that the briquettes have no negative impact on final glass quality.

Another project (EnviroGlass 1), funded by IUK, focused on exploratory research in alternative raw materials sources and reformulation for soda-lime-silica glasses. Identified alternative raw materials included biomass ash, eggshell, seashell and rice husk ash. These were reviewed, and a glass reformulation study for energy saving and emissions reducing was carried on float and green/amber container glasses.

Based on the outcomes, a follow-on project funded by BEIS (BiomAsh) is underway. This project focuses on optimising biomass ash to reduce environmental impact of amber / green container glass manufacturing. To date, a series of biomass bottom and fly ashes from different plants have been researched.


Quanshun Luo, Matthew Kitchen, Nick Farmilo – Faculty of Science Technology and Arts, Materials and Engineering Research Institute
Research in High Performance Steels

Steels form the biggest family of structural metallic materials in modern industry. Nowadays new strengthening technologies are still highly demanded in industry such as ultrahigh strength steels for vehicles and wear resistant steels for mining, railway, power generation and many other fields.

Since 2012, our research has been funded by UK government and industry to develop novel heat treatment processes to improve the strength, toughness, and wear resistance of low-alloy steels. Meanwhile, we have developed the combined instrumental techniques of quantitative characterization of multi-phase microstructure of hardened steels, including X-ray diffraction, analytical and high-resolution scanning electron microscopy, as well as transmission electron microscopy.

Up to date, the research has attracted four government funded R&D and two KTP projects as well as recent international collaborations with academics and industry.

The research has made scientific and technological advances in following aspects.

  • A novel quenching-tempering-tempering (QTT) process has been developed to produce ultrahigh strength torsion bars of large vehicles;
  • An optimised quenching-tempering (QT) process has been developed to produce large shear blades for scrap metal knives with substantially increased wear resistance;
  • A short-term austempering heat treatment has been developed to obtain multi-phase martensite-nanobainite-austenite steel of improved strength, toughness and wear resistance;

Newly updated knowledge of the kinetics of martensite/bainite phase transformation, especially the role of carbon partitioning in the strengthening and toughening mechanisms.