Advanced materials

Innovative advanced materials technologies make a direct and positive impact on economic growth, the environment and quality of life, through improved processes and products, throughout their lifecycle.

UK businesses that produce, process, fabricate and recycle materials have an annual turnover of around £197bn. They form a critical element in the high value manufacturing supply chain.

Continued innovation in advanced materials’ development and application will strengthen the UK’s world-leading position as a provider of high-value-added products, processes and services which have strong potential to bring sustainable growth and high economic value to the UK.


Uncertainty in the future availability of energy and raw materials puts at risk the development of high-value products and drives up the cost of materials for a wide range of businesses.   Competition from low-cost manufacturing overseas also presents a major threat to UK industry.  However, the UK can use its strong research and development base to enhance existing materials through design and to bring new products to market faster than the competition. The Technology Strategy Board has a role to play in stimulating and helping UK businesses to take up these opportunities, playing to UK strengths.


Our consultations have identified energy and sustainability as the main drivers of innovation in materials – reflecting wider societal concerns about the environment, natural resources and energy security.  Materials innovation in particular offers significant opportunities for UK businesses in the areas of sustainability and materials security; materials for energy; and high-value markets.

We will invest in advanced materials innovation through technology-inspired competitions as well as through sector-specific challenge programmes where there are particular materials-related needs. These sectors will include transport and energy, where strong materials impact has already been identified, and potentially new areas such as the creative industries, where new opportunities for strong growth may be realised.

Our priorities

Sustainability and materials security:

  • Lightweight materials (including metals, composites, hybrid structures and other structural materials and their associated joining and assembly technologies) applied to vehicles, structures and devices to reduce energy consumption and emissions, and increase efficiency
  • Materials with reduced environmental impact through-life (including materials for packaging applications)
  • Nanotechnology-enabled materials and functionality
  • Substitution approaches to reduce the use of less sustainable materials or those that may become restricted or banned under EU REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals)
  • Development of new materials technologies and processes to support a circular economy, for example tracking and through-life management of polymeric and composite materials, renewable raw materials, materials with self-healing or self-repairing properties
  • Materials for infrastructure and asset protection and traceability, for example as a deterrent to theft
  • Materials for sustainability of other world resources, for example bio-based and natural materials and composites;
  • Water purification

Materials for energy

  • Materials for cheaper and more efficient energy storage and management (chemical, biological, electrochemical, electrical, mechanical and thermal) – from mobile electronic and portable devices to grid-scale, for example batteries, supercapacitors, flywheels, hydrogen storage
  • Materials for energy transmission/distribution that minimise energy, power and thermal loss during the transmission and distribution process, including both electrical and liquid fuel-based systems, for example superconductors
  • Materials for high-durability energy generation at small scale (for example energy harvesting, micro generation) and large scale (for example ‘clean’ technologies, carbon abatement technologies, catalysts/fuel cells, photovoltaics, solid-state, magnetic materials).

High value markets

  • Integration of new materials, coatings and electronics, for example for sensing applications
  • Materials to survive in aggressive environments with extremes of temperature, corrosion, erosion or stress
  • Bio-based materials

For further information please visit:

Materials Knowledge Transfer Network
Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network
Chemistry Innovation Knowledge Transfer Network
Materials Security Special Interest Group


Last updated on Monday 19 November 2012 at 14:26

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