£15 million of Research England funding has enabled a £60m, world-class research facility to open with a mission to explore the huge potential for UK and international industry of a new material called graphene.

The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at the University of Manchester received funding through Research England’s UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) in 2014. The centre specialises in the research, development and translation of graphene technology, and will accelerate the commercial impact of graphene and help realise its potential to revolutionise many sectors.

Other partners, including Innovate UK – which together with Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation, a renewable energy company called Masdar, the European Union, and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, also contributed to GEIC. Construction of the centre was completed in June 2018.

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:

“The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre exemplifies our objectives for UKRPIF. Thanks to commitment from other private and public partners, the facility will help the university develop its capacity to undertake world-leading graphene research, build on its already impressive range of real-world applications, strengthen ties with industrial and academic partner organisations, and help leverage considerable investment in UK research and development. The UKRPIF is a key contributor to the government’s commitment to see research and innovation investment rise to 2.4% of GDP, and the centre is an excellent example of international partnership and investment that UKRPIF supports and leverages.”

Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manchester, Professor Luke Georghiou, said:

“The GEIC is a first step to realising a transformation of our wider surroundings. Manchester was known around the globe as Cottonopolis at the height of the Industrial Revolution – in this century our aim is to be Graphene City – a district where 2-D materials and complementary technologies drive jobs and growth.”

As well as academic and technical staff, the GEIC aims to engage with a large number of engineers and innovative SMEs, and has already announced new partners for the initiative.

The University of Manchester is home to the National Graphene Institute, which opened in 2015 and is a 7,825 square metre research facility funded by a £38m grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and £23m grant from the European Regional Development Fund.

Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov discovered graphene at the University of Manchester in 2004 by isolating and extracting 2-D crystal graphene from graphite using adhesive tape. The pair were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics.

Established in 2012, the UKRPIF has provided over £680m of capital funding to 43 research projects across the UK in its first five rounds, attracting more than £1.7bn in double-match funding from non-public sources. Round six of UKRPIF competition is currently underway, with £220m of capital funding available until 2021, taking the total government investment in the fund to £900m.