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World’s lightest mechanical watch revealed thanks to graphene

RM 50-03An ultralight high-performance mechanical watch made with graphene is unveiled today in Geneva at the Salon International De La Haute Horlogerie thanks to a unique collaboration.

The University of Manchester has collaborated with watchmaking brand Richard Mille and McLaren F1 to create world’s lightest mechanical chronograph by pairing leading graphene research with precision engineering.

The RM 50-03 watch was made using a unique composite incorporating graphene to manufacture a strong but lightweight new case to house the delicate watch mechanism. The graphene composite known as Graph TPT™ weighs less than previous similar materials used in watchmaking.

Graphene is the world’s first two-dimensional material at just one-atom thick. It was first isolated at The University of Manchester in 2004 and has the potential to revolutionise a large number of applications including, high-performance composites for the automotive and aerospace industries, as well as flexible, bendable mobile phones and tablets and next-generation energy storage.

The strap of the new watch has also been improved by the addition of graphene material. The rubber of the strap was also injected with graphene which has shown to improve its mechanical properties and its resistance to wear.

Overall the ultralight watch weighs just 40 grams and is extremely durable. The details of the collaboration and the new watch were unveiled today in Geneva by; Richard Mille, Zak Brown, McLaren F1 CEO, Eric Boullier, McLaren F1 Racing Director and new McLaren-Honda F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne. James Baker, Graphene Business Director and Professor Robert Young from The University of Manchester provided insights into the benefits of using graphene.

Prof Young, Professor of Polymer Science and Technology at the University, said of the collaboration: “The project with McLaren and Richard Mille involved an investigation into the possibility of incorporating graphene into components in composite watches to enhance performance with the view of saving weight.

“We evaluated the effect of including graphene in both the watch case and strap. We helped in the fabrication of the different components and analysed their microstructures using x-ray computed tomography and Raman spectroscopy, along with a detailed evaluation of their mechanical properties.

“We have shown that the incorporation of graphene into the watch case can have major implications for improved performance of the component in service and also enable further weight reduction in future designs.”

The striking watch has been precisely designed and inspired by the wishbone suspension structure of a McLaren-Honda Formula 1 car. Combining the design and materials the casing of the watch has withstood tremendous shock damage and survived unscathed in tests.

Speaking about the RM 50-03 watch Richard Mille said: “McLaren were already pioneers in the application of carbon to F1 cars back in the 1980s, and many aspects of our approach dovetailed nicely. We share the same desire to combine lightness and speed with durability.

“Via McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren is deeply involved in research and development beside the automotive industry. This was an opportunity for us to discover the applications of graphene and to apply it for the case of the watch, a world first premiere. The RM 50-03 represents a new approach to the challenges of lightness underlying our watchmaking philosophy.”

James Baker, Graphene Business Director, The University of Manchester said: “This collaboration has brought together three leading organisations who strive for excellence and perfection in their fields.

“The results from this project have shown exactly why graphene is perfect for delivering improvements where high-performance materials are necessary and is a key step forward into developing more widespread applications including automotive and aerospace.”

Notes for editors:

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group, is the UK’s largest single-site university with 38,600 students and is consistently ranked among the world’s elite for graduate employability.

The University is also one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ (REF 2014). World class research is carried out across a diverse range of fields including cancer, advanced materials, addressing global inequalities, energy and industrial biotechnology.

No fewer than 25 Nobel laureates have either worked or studied here.

It is the only UK university to have social responsibility among its core strategic objectives, with staff and students alike dedicated to making a positive difference in communities around the world.

Manchester is ranked 35th in the world in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2016 and 5th in the UK. The University had an annual income of almost £1 billion in 2015/16.

Visit www.manchester.ac.uk for further information.

Facts and figures: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/facts-figures/

Research Beacons: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/beacons/

News and media contacts: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/

Media enquiries:

Ben Robinson
Graphene Communications and Marketing Officer
The University of Manchester

T: +44 (0)161 275 0134
M: +44 (0) 7920 750602
E: ben.robinson@manchester.ac.uk

Manchester’s Factory gets the go-ahead

FactoryPlanning permission granted, funding confirmed, and operator announced

The plans for Factory, the brand new flagship cultural venue for the North designed by world-leading architects Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), have been granted planning approval by Manchester City Council today.

The unique venue will be at the heart of the vibrant new creative-led St. John’s neighbourhood, which is being developed by Allied London, in partnership with the council, on the site of the former Granada TV studios.

Factory will accelerate economic growth in the region. Its economic impact will be considerable – creating or supporting almost 1,500 full-time jobs and adding £1.1 billion to the city’s economy over a decade.  It will make a direct contribution to the growth of creative industries in the North, and reduce the dependency on London as the provider of creative industries training and employment. It will also develop partnerships with the city’s leading higher education institutions and will further support the city’s drive for high calibre graduate talent retention through job creation.

HM Treasury has this week approved the full business case for the £78m government capital investment in the project.

The new venue will offer audiences the opportunity to enjoy year round, in a new world-class facility, the broadest range of art forms and cultural experiences – including dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, spoken word, popular culture and innovative contemporary work incorporating multiple media and technologies.  Artists from across the world will be invited to create new work in the building’s extraordinary spaces.

The ultra-flexible space will bring a world-class arts programme to audiences of up to 7,000 at a time.  It will welcome around 900,000 visitors a year and is expected to attract around 200,000 visitors a year from outside Greater Manchester.

It has been confirmed that Manchester International Festival (MIF) will operate Factory as well as continuing to deliver the festival every two years.  Mark Ball, currently Artistic Director of LIFT, will join MIF’s senior leadership team as Associate Artistic Director, focusing on creation and delivery of the Factory programme. He will start full time at MIF in June, working closely with Artistic Director/CEO John McGrath to create a unified artistic vision for the venue and the festival.

Construction on the ground-breaking new venue is due to begin in Spring 2017.  The project is OMA’s first major public building in the UK and is led by project partners Ellen van Loon and Rem Koolhaas, founder of OMA.

OMA lead a multi-disciplinary design team including Buro Happold Structures and MEP, Arup Acoustics, Gardiner and Theobald as cost consultants and Deloitte as planning consultants.

Development of the unique venue is being driven by the extraordinary creative vision and breadth of Manchester’s cultural life.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Factory is what the arts world and Manchester has been waiting for. It’s the key to unlocking a wealth of new cultural opportunities in the city for audiences and arts practitioners, and also to massive economic gain for Manchester and the wider region. Factory isn’t going to just transform this unused corner of the city centre, it’s going to further transform the way we see the world, and the way the world sees Manchester.”

The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital & Culture, said: “I want to blast open access to the very best world-class art and culture we have to offer in this country. So we’re investing £78 million into Factory in Manchester that will provide a further boost to the brilliant arts, culture and technology scene in the North. On top of that, it will also help local tourism, generate jobs and provide training opportunities for the next generation of British creatives.”

Ellen van Loon, OMA partner in charge of the project, said: “From classical opera and ballet to large scale performances and experimental productions, Factory in Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to create the ultimate versatile space in which art, theatre and music come together: a platform for a new cultural scene.”

Tom Bloxham, Chairman, Manchester International Festival (MIF) said: “This is a great show of confidence in the cultural future of the North. in just five festivals The Manchester International Festival has established itself as a one of the major international arts Festivals, and we are delighted to now be able to add to the City’s and the Country’s cultural offer all year round through our programming at Factory.”

Speaking of Mark Ball’s appointment, John McGrath, CEO and Artistic Director, MIF,  said: “I have been a huge admirer of Mark’s vision as a producer and programmer since his early days at Fierce Festival, and it has been inspiring to see his extraordinary achievements at LIFT.  I can’t imagine a better person to join MIF at this key moment in its history, and to ensure an exceptional, international programme of work at Factory.”

Mark Ball said: “Factory is undoubtedly the most exciting and ambitious new cultural space in the country, committed to pioneering arts projects and programmes in an incredible new building right in the heart of Manchester. Over the next few years I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside John and the team at MIF and with some of Manchester’s and the worlds’ most brilliant artists and organisations to help make unforgettable, joyful and exceptional art.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said: “As the nation’s developer of our arts and culture we want to invest in bold schemes that will excite audiences and burnish our international reputation. The Factory has just such potential – it promises to be a powerful catalyst, bringing artists together to work in new ways in an intriguing new space. It promises a programme that will attract future generations of audiences to new types of performance. We are proud to support The Factory, and our partners in Manchester, as they continue their journey to become a standout cultural venue.”

Michael Ingall, Chief Executive, Allied London said:
“The St. John’s neighbourhood has a storied past; rich with culture, creative spirit and radical new thinking. With Factory onsite as our cultural anchor, St. John’s will now become home to the city’s next generation of arts, creativity and contemporary cultural experiences, completely transforming Manchester’s cultural output and standing.”

Images of Factory are available to download from the following link:

Additional images showing key people involved in the project from OMA, Manchester International Festival, Manchester City Council, and Arts Council England are available at the following link:


Press Enquiries:

Jane Lemon
Manchester City Council Press Office
Tel: 0161 234 1010
Email: j.lemon@manchester.gov.uk

Erica Bolton
Bolton & Quinn
Tel: +44 (0)207 221 5000
Mobile: +44 (0)7711 698 186
Email: erica@boltonquinn.com

Notes to Editors:

Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
OMA’s projects include the recently completed Faena Forum, Miami (2016), Pierre Lassond Pavilion for the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (2016), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2015) the Fondazione Prada, Milan (2015) and the CCTV headquarters, Beijing.  In the UK their projects have included the headquarters for Rothschild Bank in the City of London (2011) and a Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow (2011). They also created the Serpentine Pavilion in 2006. Currently under development are the Taipei Performing Arts Centre, Fondation d’Entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris, Qatar National Library, Qatar Foundation Headquarters, Prince Plaza in Shenzhen. Rem Koolhaas won the Pritzker Prize, the world most important prize for architecture, in 2000.

Manchester International Festival
Manchester International Festival (MIF) is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events. The Festival is staged every two years in Manchester, UK – the next edition will take place from 29 June to 16 July 2017.

Manchester International Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture and has commissioned, produced and presented world premieres by artists as diverse as Björk, Steve McQueen, Maxine Peake, Robert Wilson, Elbow, Wayne McGregor, The xx, Zaha Hadid Architects, Damon Albarn, Punchdrunk and Marina Abramović, among many others.

MIF brings together artists from different art forms and backgrounds to create dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking new work, staged in venues across Greater Manchester – from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. The Festival works closely with festivals and other cultural organisations around the world, whose financial and creative input helps to make projects possible and guarantees that they have a life after each Festival has ended.

MIF works widely within communities around Manchester, originally with MIF Creative and now with a new initiative called My Festival. Launched in November 2016, My Festival is a diverse network of creative people who are forging closer connections with MIF – taking part in public projects, connecting MIF to their communities, and joining a new programme of training activities, workshops and other special events.

MIF is a registered charity. Alongside the income received from principle funders Manchester City Council and Arts Council England, income comes from ticket sales and co-commissioning partners; from other public bodies; from private sponsorship; from charitable trusts and foundations; and from individual donations.

Mark Ball
Mark Ball was appointed as Artistic Director and Chief Executive of LIFT in April 2009, presiding over 4 highly acclaimed and successful festivals and re-establishing it as one of Europe’s leading and most influential international arts festivals. From 1998 – 2007 he led Fierce!, an annual international festival of performance taking place across the West Midlands. In January 2008 he was appointed Head of Events and Exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, leading a new department responsible for raising the profile of the RSC amongst new audiences by producing and delivering a range of artist-led projects and commissions. He is the former winner of the Institute of Director’s (IoD) Young Director of the Year and was made a Clore Fellow in 2006/2007 and was previously named by Time Out and The Stage as one of the ten most influential people in British theatre. He also holds posts at a number of arts organisations including trusteeships at Frantic Assembly and he is the Chair of artsdepot.


Manchester City CouncilManchester is a top 20 European digital city according to a recent report which looks at how well different cities support digital entrepreneurship. This report measures how well the city region is doing in supporting fast growth digital companies and start-ups.

The latest European Digital City Index 2016, independently compiled by Nesta, the UK Innovation Foundation, ranked Manchester in 16th place out of 60 cities for young digital companies and start-ups. London, Stockholm and Amsterdam clinched the top three spots.

This is the first time that Manchester has appeared in the Index. This position, ahead of Edinburgh (19), Birmingham (23) and Cardiff (40), recognises the strength of its digital business base and assets which include MediaCityUK, home of the BBC, ITV and over 250 businesses. The vibrancy and successful digital and creative community of the Northern Quarter, which houses over 150 significant start-up companies, was also acknowledged.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and Economic Strategy Portfolio Lead for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “Manchester has always been ambitious. We are on track to become a top 20 global city so it is welcome that Nesta recognises the progress we have made in the digital field.”

Greater Manchester has a notable and diverse start-up and scale up ecosystem which includes specialisms in cyber security, e-commerce and FinTech. Local businesses in the digital sector include Apadmi, UK Fast, MoneySuperMarket, Zen Internet and Misguided, together with Cisco, Hitachi, Talk Talk and Siemens.

Sir Richard Leese added: “Greater Manchester has gained momentum and will no doubt improve its position further with the development of new initiatives through our Internet of Things demonstrator, CityVerve. We’re also very active in creating supportive hubs for software engineers and tech entrepreneurs to enhance our tech ecosystem.”

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Notes to Editors

The European Digital City Index (EDCi) describes how well different European cities support digital entrepreneurship.

It was produced by Nesta as part of the European Digital Forum, which exists to support digital entrepreneurship and digital start-ups across Europe. The European Digital Forum is run in collaboration with the European Commission’s Start-up Europe initiative.

For start-ups and scale-ups, it provides information about the strengths and weaknesses of local ecosystems, allowing them to plan accordingly and consider where they may need to devote more resources.

For policy makers aiming to encourage digital entrepreneurship in their own city, the Index helps to identify existing and promising hubs of activity, in order to learn from their practices. Additionally, it allows benchmarking of performance against other European hubs, and helps identify which policy areas to prioritise.

Greater Manchester facts

  • According to startups.eu, Manchester has over 51,000 startups which employ nearly 263,000 people
  • In the past decade Manchester’s start-ups have secured £138m of funding.

Business of Science conference to return for 2017

Steve BennettA conference celebrating the connection between business and science is set to make a return to Manchester in 2017.

The Business of Science Conference will be back in the city on May 18th with a programme of high-profile speakers including Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, and Richard Carter, managing director UK and Ireland for BASF.

Other speakers taking to the stage at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester include entrepreneur, investor and advisor Sherry Coutu CBE and Rosa Wilkinson, director of trade policy stakeholder engagement at the Department for International Trade.

Key event themes will focus on science, innovation and skills with topics spanning the development and commercialisation of great science, the role of science to drive economic growth and leadership skills within science.

Steve Bennett, managing director of Science North Limited: “Following the success of the inaugural conference in 2016, we’re thrilled to be able to announce the details of Business of Science 2017. Ultimately it’s about connecting business and scientific excellence and driving collaboration between the two to generate economic growth.

“We already have some excellent speakers lined up and new ideas for interesting panel discussions, which we’ll announce over the coming months. We’re also really pleased to have the continued support of many of last year’s sponsors and look forward to working with new businesses too.”

Returning sponsors include BASF, Grant Thornton and the University of Bolton. Drug discovery and development company Redx Pharma will again be involved in the conference with details due to be announced soon.

Event supporters include Active Profile, RARE Digital, WolfeLive, the Museum of Science and Industry, Wakelet, Fatsoma and TransitionPlus.

Tickets per person cost £95+VAT with an early bird rate of £75+VAT by December 31st.

For more information on the event, visit www.businessofscience.co.uk


Notes to editor:

Business of Science 2017

Thursday May 18th – Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

08:00- 17:00

With 200 delegates expected, the Business of Science event will explore the development and commercialisation of great science, offer case studies drawn from successful businesses and provide the opportunity to ask questions of those involved.

Key themes include:

o   Development of great science

o   Commercialisation of great science

o   Science environments and infrastructure

o   The role of science to drive economic growth

o   Academic and technical skills development across STEM subjects

o   Leadership skills within science

See www.businessofscience.co.uk for more information


FDI global citiesManchester will end 2016 on a high note following the announcement that the region has been awarded two top 10 foreign direct investment (FDI) rankings for strategy and connectivity.

Published today, the Financial Times fDi Global Cities of the Future 2016/2017 report, which focuses on 131 international cities accounting for over one-third of all global FDI, recognises Manchester as one of the world’s key business destinations. The six categories summarised in the report are; FDI Strategy, Economic Potential, Business Friendliness, Human Capital and Lifestyle, Cost Effectiveness, and Connectivity.

This is the second year Manchester has been recognised for connectivity which assessed digital, telecomms and international travel connectivity, as well as the quality of overall infrastructure. This year the city region is in 8th place, with London, Singapore and Hong Kong leading the category. Ranked 6th for strategy, Manchester beat the likes of Hong Kong, Chicago and Brisbane.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “These results highlight Manchester’s status as a global business destination. It is a real achievement to be chosen as one of the world’s top performing cities in terms of FDI and underlines the region’s global status.

“Greater Manchester has always been ambitious and continues to drive change. We’re investing heavily to create a supportive and connected environment that enables our businesses to compete on an international stage.”

Tim Newns, chief executive, MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, said: “This confirms Manchester is one of Europe’s strongest business cities and it is a strong peer group of cities that Manchester finds itself within.

“We encourage more of the world’s leading and emerging companies seeking opportunities in Europe to choose to invest and innovate in Manchester.”

To read the full report visit fDi Global Cities of the Future 2016-17.compressed

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