New Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre takes giant step forward

Construction firm Laing O’Rourke has successfully handed over the first phase of the new £60 million Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester.

It means specialist equipment which will be used by researchers and engineers can now be installed.

Works are well underway to fit out the laboratories ahead of the centre opening later this year.

The GEIC will focus on industry-led application development in partnership with world leading academics, accelerating the commercial pace of graphene and 2D materials in Manchester and globally.

This is the first project Laing O’Rourke has completed as part of The University of Manchester Construction Partnering Framework.

The next is the £105 million Henry Royce Institute due to complete in 2019.

Phase one of Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre complete

Liam Cummins, head of UK building for Laing O’Rourke, said: “We’re delighted to hand over this fantastic facility on time and on budget for The University of Manchester and its funding partners.

“As an engineering enterprise committed to innovation and excellence in our own delivery, it is exciting to think about the potential developments that will come to fruition here at the GEIC and I know our team are rightfully proud of our achievements.

“It’s also exciting to have completed our first project as part of The University of Manchester Construction Partnering Framework and we’re keen to take the momentum into our next project on the framework; The Sir Henry Royce Institute.”

The new GEIC flagship facility has been funded by Masdar-an Abu Dhabi based renewable energy and clean technology company, Research England, the European Regional Development Fund, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Innovate UK.

It has been designed by world-renowned architect Rafael Vinoly and is 8,400 square metres in size.

The GEIC complements the existing National Graphene Institute (NGI) creating a critical mass of graphene expertise made up of scientists, engineers, innovators and industrialists.

The GEIC is also stimulating the commercial development of the University’s North Campus, creating a cornerstone for Graphene City.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester said: “The GEIC is a key component of the University’s strategy for Graphene@Manchester. The centre’s aim is to accelerate the commercialisation to real- world applications to transition graphene and other 2D materials from the lab to the marketplace.”

Sir Andre Geim
(Image: Manchester Evening News)

The announcement comes as the University of Manchester is named as the seventh most innovative in Europe.

The Reuters Top 100 Most Innovative Universities ranking is based on the number of academic papers, patents filed and citations by other academics and industry which introduces a quality rather than a volume measure.

UoM jumped up nine places from its ranking in 2017.

For almost 15 years the university’s IP enterprises have generated over £115 million through the sale of shares in spin-outs, licensing income and through IP grants and contracts activity.

Furthermore, more than £430m has been invested by third party venture funders in the university’s spin-outs.

It’s biggest success story is graphene, following its isolation in 2010 by Nobel Prize winners Professors Geim and Novoselov. The university has one of the most extensive portfolios of IP rights relating to graphene and 2D materials with over 300 scientists engaged in 2D materials research here in Graphene City.

Clive Rowland, CEO of UMI3 Ltd, The University’s agent for IP commercialisation, said: “The University continues to promote its long-standing commitment to improving society through innovation, whether such positive impacts are achieved by our social enterprises or for commercial gain through our spin-out company and technology licensing work.

“We recognise that to be an innovative organisation we need to look for quality as well as volume with our patenting – our patents need to be both thorough and defensible.

“It’s pleasing to see that our results focused approach and continuous improvement in our way of working, that we introduced some time ago, is having an effect as shown by our upward movement in this index.

“The difference between us and those towards the top of the table, in respect of the impact measure, is narrowing too.”

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