We're opening the doors to open innovation - hear from Pete Longdon on why it's so important.

This is an exciting time for me and my colleagues at Tata Steel. We’ve spent a good few months planning and setting up this innovation portal and I really believe that it marks the start of something big.

I’m a big fan of open innovation (OI) – which is probably why they asked me to lead this project. I’ve worked in the steel industry for more than 20 years and have some great personal experience of how satisfying and rewarding collaboration can be.

OI revival

Open innovation is not new to the steel industry. The development of the wide hot strip mill in the 1920s was one of the earliest examples of industrial OI. Since then the steel industry has not really embraced OI – but at Tata Steel we want to change that.

Innovation is a clear part of our strategy. In the past 12 months we’ve launched 30 new products and we’ve got even more ambitious targets for the coming years. Of course, we invest significantly in R&D and have got some great strengths here. But we recognise that for every talented person we employ internally, there are thousands of people who are just as talented outside our organisation.

Why OI is a winner

So that’s where our newly-launched innovation portal comes in. We’ve developed it with support from the Welsh Government (itself a big supporter of OI) and we think it’s a win-win scenario

  • OI will help us to create new opportunities and maintain our market leadership position;
  • OI provides a tremendous opportunity for people who collaborate with us to get their ideas and technologies implemented. If the ideas aren’t quite right for Tata Steel, we can raise the potential of them with our network, including the wider Tata Group. In fact we’ve already done this with some of the responses received to the challenges we’ve posted on our Ninesights Gallery. 

But enough from me for now. It’s over to you to explore this portal, ponder the possibilities and get in touch with your ideas. We’ve opened the door – please come in!   

About Pete Longdon

Pete Longdon has a PhD in Chemistry and MSc in Ferrous Metallurgy. He joined the steel industry as a researcher in 1990. He’s since led several R&D teams and managed a number of European collaborative projects for Tata Steel. Since 2010 Pete has been tasked with seeking out new technologies and encouraging collaboration.