A Steely Solution for Eureka Moments
Tata Steel is to create an interactive online portal which will encourage innovative technical ideas to be aired and shared. The 'Open Innovation Portal' is part of a project resulting from a competition run by the Welsh Government to promote research and development involving multiple parties.
Pete Longdon, Manager New Technology & Innovation at Tata Steel, said: "Getting ahead of the game - and staying there - is vital in our competitive industry. We are creating new specifications of steel to do special jobs in demanding applications - pursuing strength, formability, ductility as well as qualities to resist corrosion. Such products may appear in the automotive, engineering, construction or many other market sectors."
The Open Innovation strategy will ensure that technical contributions can be received from widespread and diverse sources, including academia, suppliers and customers. It will help Tata Steel develop new products and processes and to encourage innovative collaboration with existing and potential new partners.
Pete Longdon added: "Open Innovation is all about recognising that there is much to be gained from sharing challenges and solutions with the wide community of experts outside the company. Our new online portal will facilitate the opportunity for Tata Steel to work with external partners in a much more open and transparent way, whilst always ensuring that Intellectual Property for all parties is respected.
"We're looking for a wide range of opportunities, including new applications for our products, new coatings and ways to combine our products with other materials. We will also be open to ideas which improve our processes - optimising raw materials and energy usage and reducing waste, for example."
Welsh Government Economy Minister Edwina Hart AM said: "This award is part of a pilot project which is itself part of our new approach to encourage the development of commercially exploitable solutions for the benefit of Welsh businesses. Wales already lays claim to many new and exciting technologies. Tata Steel is an anchor company for the Welsh economy and this solution opens the door for Welsh technical contributors - in universities and elsewhere - to make their mark."
Pete Longdon explained: "We'll be using social media to encourage contributors to enter the site and offer their input to various technical challenges. We can then engage directly with contributors, working together more closely and ensuring their part is appropriately credited."
The Tata Steel Open Innovation Portal will be launched in early 2014.
About Tata Steel in Europe
The European operations of Tata Steel comprise Europe's second largest steel producer. With the main steelmaking operations in the UK and Netherlands, they supply steel and related services to the construction, automotive, packaging, lifting & excavating, energy & power, aerospace and other demanding markets worldwide. The combined Tata Steel group is one of the world's largest steel producers, with an aggregate crude steel capacity of more than 28 million tonnes and approximately 80,000 employees across four continents.