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£60m GEIC reaffirms Manchester’s place at the centre of global 2D materials research

Categories: Lightweighting

The £60m Masdar Building which houses the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) has officially opened for business, providing a worldwide focus for the commercialisation of “wonder material” graphene and other 2D materials.

At just one atom thick graphene is the world’s thinnest material but is many times strong than steel, both thermally and electrically conductive and transparent.

Part of a £300m+ investment in 2D materials infrastructure in the UK city of Manchester - where graphene was first isolated in 2004 -  the GEIC’s launch to global innovators included a showcase of existing and future technology, and workshops to demonstrate the incredible potential for products enabled by 2D materials.

Exhibitors and delegates included British supercar manufacturer Briggs Automotive Company, demonstrating the graphene-enabled BAC Mono, which boasts five superlight graphene composite panels; the manufacturers of a graphene-skinned drone; tier one GEIC partners Haydale, Versarien and First Graphene; and international trade bodies including The Graphene Council.

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), housed in the Masdar Building is The University of Manchester’s second world-class graphene centre, creating a unique pipeline of capability to fast-track graphene’s commercial potential.

The GEIC is critical in the development of commercial applications and in maintaining the UK’s continued growth in graphene and related 2D materials. Together, with the £61m National Graphene Institute, the GEIC provides an unrivalled hub of graphene expertise and capabilities. The two facilities demonstrate Manchester’s position as the globally leading knowledge-base in graphene research and commercialisation. The £200m Henry Royce Institute is now under construction and will support further strengths.

The investment recognises Manchester’s standing as Graphene City, an ambitious vision from The University of Manchester, that aims to create a thriving knowledge-based economy around graphene.

James Baker, Chief Executive of Graphene@Manchester, said: “Today is an exciting step in taking graphene from the lab into products and applications through the opening of the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre which will play a key role, working with industry to translate science into products and applications to create real value, jobs and benefits for the UK.”

“Graphene can play a key role in attracting opportunities for export and inward investment into Manchester and the UK. It can help de-risk Brexit by creating opportunities to create new trade deals on an international basis. This is a really exciting time to be taking graphene into that next stage of development.”

Sheona Southern, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester, said: “The home of graphene, Greater Manchester is a world-renowned centre of excellence in advanced materials.  With strengths in both research and manufacturing, it is a place where world-class research continues to drive advances in 2D materials and technical textiles and where researchers are working with industry to commercialise applications in areas such as composites, nanotechnologies, 3D printing, sensor technologies, and robotics.

“Manchester is a place of progressive thinking and pioneering ideas and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre will provide a place for the world’s innovators to join us in shaping the future.”

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, said: “The GEIC gives us that platform to fully realise the commercial potential for graphene in the UK.

“Whether they’re in healthcare, aerospace, technology or hardware, the GEIC will provide a focal point and beacon for companies to partner on what will be the future of multiple industries.”

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Advanced Materials and Manufacturing is proposed as one of the globally competitive strengths that will sit at the heart of Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy.

“Part of a world-leading industry for graphene/2D materials and their applications, The Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre will support Manchester’s ambition to be at the centre of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

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