Glass Futures has broken ground on its £54 million development in St Helens, UK.

The 165,000ft2 global glass research and innovation facility is expected to complete in January 2023.

Glass Futures will manage the building to deliver industry and government-backed research, as well as development projects focused on decarbonising glass production.

It will also provide a platform for the industry to access an experimental scale furnace to test and run trials for implementation at commercial scale, both collaboratively and individually.

Guests from Glass Futures, Network Space Developments, St Helens Borough Council, Liverpool City Region, MPs Marie Rimmer and Connor McGinn welcomed UKRI to the site on Friday to mark the ground-breaking of the Centre of Excellence.

Network Space Developments (NSD) has appointed building contractor Bower & Kirkland to deliver the building at Saints Retail Park, occupying a site with links to the historic glass industry for which the town is famed.

Glass Futures’ Chief Executive, Richard Katz, said: “With the ground-breaking ceremony, Glass Futures has reached a real milestone in the delivery of its Global Centre of Excellence for glass in R&D, innovation and training.

Due for completion next year, we will be targeting the elimination of carbon from mass production in the glass industry, as well as other Foundation Industries."

“For the future of mankind, it’s essential the world wakes up to the damage it’s doing to itself and collectively acts now to dramatically reduce fossil fuel emissions whether from industry, transport, agriculture or domestic heating.

The Glass Futures’ hot glass experimental facility is a substantial stepping stone to cutting emissions, designed to work both collaboratively or privately with industry to identify and deliver sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

We welcome any approaches from potential industrial partners who want to join us on this journey.”