Sestao to open a R&D centre for steel
The Basque Government and ArcelorMittal are to promote this centre with an investment of 100 million euros, transforming it into a "reference point at an international level"
The Lehendakari, Patxi López, presided over the signing of this important agreement that envisages the construction of an R&D centre for the steel industry, a not-for-profit research and business development institution located within the Basque Country. The initiative presented today takes its inspiration from a project initially presented in 2008, which has been rewritten with a view for implementation over the course of the following six years, entailing an investment of 100 million euros and the creation of 45 direct jobs. The agreements were signed today in the presence of the Lehendakari, Patxi López, ArcelorMittal board member, Gonzalo Urkijo, Minister Bernabé Unda and the Mayor of Sestao, José Luis Marcos Merino.
The Basque Government has reshaped the agreement signed in 2008 in order to "give it a final impetus", given that the agreement drafted by the previous government "could not be adequately defined and was not sufficiently detailed". We have drawn up an investment calendar for now until 2016 and defined "the lines of investigation and resources" necessary for the establishment of this steel R&D&I centre in Sestao.
The Lehendakari, Patxi López, drew attention to the importance of this agreement for the Basque steel industry and for the district. "We are confident that this will be a successful alliance. Steel is not something consigned to the past; it is a crucial industry and we need to ensure that the large companies that help drive our economy continue to support the growth of our region and provide added value to an area that is particularly disadvantaged by our geography," he added.
The agreements were signed by the Minister for Industry, Innovation, Trade and Tourism, Bernabé Unda, ArcelorMittal board member, Gonzalo Urkijo and the Mayor for Sestao, José Luis Marcos Merino in an act presided over by the Lehendakari, Patxi López.
The agreements signed today in the Lehendakaritza are the results of dual negotiations. On the one hand, an agreement between the multinational and the Basque Government to redefine and implement the project. And on the other hand, an agreement between ArcelorMittal and the Town Hall of Sestao to go ahead with the construction of this centre on Dársena de la Benedicta, land belonging to the local council
Today's ceremony marks the inception of this centre, which is to receive a total investment of 100 million euros provided in equal parts by the Basque Government and the multinational steel firm.
A renewed project
This project was presented in September of 2008 when an agreement was signed between the Basque Government and ArcelorMittal for the creation of a not-for-profit research and business development institute for the steel industry in the Basque Country. The agreement set forth that an action plan for the following five years would be drawn up by the multinational firm. The entity was founded at the end of 2008 under the name of 'ArcelorMittal Basque Country Research Centre' and its headquarters were based in the Biscay Technological Park in Zamudio.
In 2009, the sector experienced a significant reduction in production, which had a negative impact on the innovative activities ArcelorMittal had planned. The projects which were to be implemented in the two following years were cut back and, in some cases, terminated.
Reference centre at an international level
The Basque Government and ArcelorMittal have been working together for some months now on defining the projects to be carried out by the Basque R&D centre. Firstly, ArcelorMittal's commitment to the Basque Country has been taken into account, both with respect to their production centres and their capacity to drive R&D in steel forward. Secondly, the centre's activities have been tied to the Basque Government's competitiveness policy, which promotes an open, innovative, enterprising, technologically-advanced and sustainable economy.
The R&D centre in Sestao will serve as an impetus for the world-class, environmentally-friendly, energetically-sustainable, internationally-renowned steel sector thanks to its focus on transformative innovation and advanced knowledge, as well as its online collaborative work, which will strengthen the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network.
This shared vision makes it possible to encompass all public and private agents: the capabilities of ArcelorMittal's world-wide network of partners and R&D&I projects in centres located within the Basque Country; as well as the capabilities of the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network and the Basque steel cluster.
The focus will be on two strategies for innovation: one aimed at improving steelwork and rolling processes, products and applications, and another more transformative strategy: strengthening energy efficiency and new products and markets. In this way it will be possible to meet short and medium-term needs.
When discussing the best location for this centre, it was decided that an emblematic 2800 square-metre building reflecting the steel industry would be built to house offices, energy- and production-efficient steel laboratories and an area for smelting and rolling steel.
ArcelorMittal will also be using existing equipment from its production plants, which is why a location was chosen that was in close proximity to the major production plants in operation in Sestao. The Council of Sestao also wished to revamp some of the neglected areas within the municipality and restore the municipality's historical link with the world of steel. Dársena de la Benedict was identified as the ideal location for a R&D centre.