Construction of the £54 million Glass Futures building in St Helens, UK is almost complete.

The main contract works of the 165,000ft2 glass research and development building has been completed.

It has been handed over to Glass Futures ready for the internal fit out works to commence next month.

The building is expected to be operational later this year.

Delivery of the project has been managed by landowner and developer Network Space Developments (NSD), on behalf of a partnership including not-for-profit Glass Futures, St Helens Borough Council, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI (UK Research & Innovation).

The facility was pre let to St Helens Borough Council on a 15-year head lease and sub-let to Glass Futures which will occupy the building to deliver industry and government-backed research and development projects focused on decarbonising the glass and foundation industries.

It will also provide a platform for its members to access an experimental scale furnace for testing and trials of new technology on a line, both collaboratively and individually.

Throughout the construction phase, the scheme has made a significant contribution to the local economy with £11.2m of supply contracts going to businesses within a 20-mile radius of the site, including more than £1m awarded to St Helens’ businesses.

Overall, 441 operatives and sub-contractors have been employed on the scheme, including 30 apprentices, with 36% of the labour coming from St Helens, Wigan and Warrington communities.

Glass Futures has also appointed its first three apprentices.

Richard Katz, Chief Executive of Glass Futures said: “Ten years ago the founding members of Glass Futures had the idea of building a Global Centre of Excellence to make glass the low-carbon material of choice.

"We each subscribed to a powerful idea which has since attracted major government innovation funding and industry support leading to the completion of the build phase of the project which will become our new home.

“But for us this handover is just the start. We’ll now begin an internal fit out and will install the world’s first openly accessible furnace to test commercially viable technology, which should be operational by January 2024.

Capable of producing up to 30 tonnes of glass per day, we’ll be able to collaborate with our global membership, academic researchers and industry leaders to continue our ground-breaking trials into alternative energy sources, raw materials and technologies to demonstrate real decarbonisation solutions for the foundation industries.”