A Greater Manchester MP and science advisor has praised a new approach to innovation based around the commercialisation of graphene, citing its aim of supporting investment and new opportunities in the region.
Mark Logan, MP for Bolton North East and a member of the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee, was shown facilities at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), including specialist labs and the 'high bay' area, which are home to highly specialised equipment used in the testing and scale-up of products using graphene and other 2D materials.
Mark was the first VIP visitor to take a virtual tour of a graphene facility at The University of Manchester following lockdown.
The tour was led by James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, using a digital 360 video (filmed pre-Covid) to ensure compliance with current health protocols and safeguard workers on site.
“It was really helpful to be shown the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre in this way – and the virtual tour provided me with a real insight into the pioneering work being led in this world-class facility,” said Mark.
“But the real lesson for me was that these amazing facilities are part of a unique innovation ecosystem that has the potential to attract investment and new jobs to the Greater Manchester region, potentially including my own constituency in Bolton.
“Essentially, this exemplar ‘Manchester Model of Innovation’ looks to fast-track cutting-edge science from the lab to market - and by doing this will help drive our regional economy and support local supply chains.”
James Baker added: “Graphene@Manchester has always operated an open-door policy. So it was a great to welcome Mark and for him to get an insight into our work in this virtual way that was completely safe.
“We hope this provided the next best thing to seeing how we work on commercialising 2D materials in the real, 3D world.
“In fact, we have taken advantage of new technology such as video conferencing and webinars not only to maintain existing relationships but also to engage proactively with new contacts and partners from across the world.
“In some ways, technology has helped us to fast-track new opportunities and we have learned some valuable lessons for future engagement.”