Manchester’s graphene ecosystem is a boost to UK’s ‘levelling up’ agenda

The graphene innovation ecosystem at The University of Manchester has been highlighted as an exemplar in attracting inward investment into the local regional economy – and therefore helping to boost the UK’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

The spotlight comes in a report entitled, The role of universities in driving overseas investment into UK Research and Development which has been authored by Dr Alexis Brown for the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). Dr Brown is Head of Global Education Insights at the British Council and is calling for UK universities to leverage global connections to help drive local growth.

The report highlights where this collaboration is already being achieved. For example, the strategic, long-term relationship-building between The University of Manchester and regional civic stakeholders plus international partners, such as those based in Abu Dhabi.

This type of relationship has, for example, led to an ambitious agreement between the University and Abu Dhabi-based Khalifa University of Science and Technology which aims to deliver a funding boost to graphene innovation that will help tackle the planet’s big challenges. This project has also won praise from senior figures in the UK government.

Much of the focus of this international collaboration on advanced materials has been around the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) which is a unique innovation accelerator based at The University of Manchester.

And, as well as supporting collaboration in the Middle East, the HEPI report also points out that the “… GEIC’s development has in turn generated further funding from a range of international and domestic partners, including the Australian-based supplier of graphene products First Graphene, the Brazilian graphene startup Gerdau Graphene, surface-functionalised graphene specialists Haydale and advanced engineering materials group Versarien.

“GEIC will also form a cornerstone element of the new £1.5 billion Innovation District Manchester, alongside the University’s Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, which focuses on industrial biotechnology and industry-facing biomanufacturing…”

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, said: “It’s fantastic to see that Manchester’s graphene innovation ecosystem has been highlighted in a national policy report that outlines how universities can bring inward investment into the regional economies they serve.

“It has been five years since the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre opened its doors and our success in taking 2D materials from lab-to-market is clearly demonstrated by the many international partnerships we have formed - and the significant investment that these partners are making to drive graphene-inspired R&D in our region.

“These international research and innovation collaborations are creating new products, new businesses and new jobs. This all adds new value to our regional economy - so boosting the UK’s ‘levelling up’ ambitions.”

Advanced materials is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships tackling some of the planet's biggest questions. #ResearchBeacons

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