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Universities Minister celebrates Manchester’s materials reputation

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Advanced Materials were at the centre of the agenda for the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore, last week during a thorough tour of The University of Manchester campus.

The Minister visited the University to discover more about the soon-to-open Henry Royce Institute, hear about the most recent graphene developments, discover more about how the AI and robotics are helping to solve challenges faced by the nuclear industry and finally tour the north campus and future home of IDManchester.

During the tour, the Minister, who was accompanied by President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, met with leading academics and discussed breakthrough developments at the University since he last visited the campus just over a year ago.

Professor Phil Withers greeted the Minister to discuss and take-in the the new soon-to-open £150m Royce building, a new national hub for advanced materials research and commercialisation.

During the visit Chris Skidmore said: “The University of Manchester is doing amazing research in areas like x-ray imaging systems and the super material graphene. Outstanding university research like this will help build our reputation as a global science superpower while growing our economy, and it was a privilege to witness it first-hand.”

The University of Manchester is doing amazing research in areas like x-ray imaging systems and the super material graphene. Outstanding university research like this will help build our reputation as a global science superpower while growing our economy, and it was a privilege to witness it first-hand, Chris Skidmore, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

The delegation then visited state-of-the-art research facilities of the National Graphene Institute (NGI) with Professor Sir Andre Geim, who received a Nobel Prize for his work on initially isolating the two-dimensional (2D) material in 2004 and continues to explore and develop the untapped potential of related 2D materials in Manchester.

The NGI, along the with Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) forms the heart of Graphene City, an entire city-centre based end-to-end ecosystem to research, develop and commercialise unique graphene applications in tandem with industry.

A tour of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) was also on the agenda to visit the labs at the heart of the pioneering research led by Professor Nigel Scrutton and team which was recently honoured with the Queen's Anniversary Prize. The MIB was singled out as a beacon of excellence for being at the forefront of designing a sustainable future for the UK and communities across the world by developing disruptive bio-based technologies.

The visit concluded with the Minister heading to the RAIN project which uses robotic and AI technologies to solve challenges faced by the nuclear industry. It is led by Barry Lennox, Professor of Applied Control in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering,

Tags:  2D materials  Chris Skidmore  Dame Nancy Rothwell  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Phil Withers  University of Manchester 

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Versarien plc US graphene operations update

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Versarien plc is pleased to provide an update on its US graphene operations. The Company continues to make progress with current and potential partners in the US.  As announced on 27 June 2019, the Company appointed Brian Berney as President of North American Operations at Versarien Graphene Inc., reporting to Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien.  Since then the Company has continued to enter into confidentiality agreements with potential partners to examine collaborations and develop trials in the region, including in particular, with a global tyre manufacturer.

Versarien has strengthened its US profile by attending two trade missions in Q4 2019, supported by the UK government.  In October 2019, Versarien attended the UK Supplier Showcase in Wichita, in conjunction with Spirit AeroSystems, and in December 2019 the Company was part of Innovate UK's Global Business Innovation Programme to Boston, which focused on graphene applications and technology in the electronics, composites and energy sectors.

Versarien Graphene, Inc. has a serviced office location.  Brian Berney, who is the only full-time employee in the US, is supported by the UK Company team, including from within the Company's laboratory facilities at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre in the UK. The Company also has access to third party laboratory facilities in Texas, which are utilised on a flexible basis and only as required.  This strategy is in line with the Group's approach to keep cost to a minimum and utilise customer's R&D facilities, where possible, as well as the Company's R&D expertise and available facilities in the UK.

Tags:  Brian Berney  composites  Electronics  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Neill Ricketts  Versarien  Versarien Graphene 

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Mayor praises Manchester model of innovation as graphene applications gain real pace

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, January 13, 2020
Andy Burnham, Mayor for Greater Manchester, made a fact-finding tour of facilities that are pioneering graphene innovation at The University of Manchester.

The Mayor toured the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) which is an industry-facing facility specialising in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications.

As well as state-of-the art labs and equipment, the Mayor was also shown examples of commercialisation – including the world’s first-ever sports shoes to use graphene which has been produced by specialist sports footwear company inov-8 who are based in the North.

Andy Burnham – a running enthusiast who has previously participated in a number of marathons – has promised to put a pair of graphene trainers to the test and feedback his own experiences to researchers based at The University of Manchester.

Manchester is the home of graphene - and when you see the brilliant work and the products now being developed with the help of the Graphene@Manchester team it’s clear why this city-region maintains global leadership in research and innovation around this fantastic advanced material, Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor.

By collaborating with graphene experts in Manchester, inov-8 has been able to develop a graphene-enhanced rubber which they now use for outsoles in a new range of running and fitness shoes. In testing, the groundbreaking G-SERIES shoes have outlasted 1,000 miles and are scientifically proven to be 50% stronger, 50% more elastic and 50% harder wearing.

“Manchester is the home of graphene - and when you see the brilliant work and the products now being developed with the help of the Graphene@Manchester team it’s clear why this city-region maintains global leadership in research and innovation around this fantastic advanced material,” said Andy Burnham.

“I have been very impressed with the exciting model of innovation the University has pioneered in our city-region, with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre playing a vital role by working with its many business partners to take breakthrough science from the lab and apply it to real world challenges.

“And thanks to world firsts, like the graphene running shoe, the application of graphene is now gaining real pace. In fact, the experts say we are approaching a tipping point for graphene commercialisation – and this is being led right here in Greater Manchester.”

Tags:  2D materials  Andy Burnham  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  inov-8  sporting goods  University of Manchester 

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Graphene Industry Showcase in Manchester

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, December 16, 2019

This week Graphene@Manchester hosted a jam-packed two-day (10-11 December) event showcasing the hottest topics in the field of graphene.

The event saw over 100 delegates take to Manchester for a chance to find out how they can benefit from working with the one-atom-thick material.

Featuring talks from BAC, inov-8 and Lifesaver, delegates were able to witness first hand the practical applications of graphene and 2D materials.

The showcase also featured an exhibition of some of the newest products and prototypes using the revolutionary material such as water filtration devices and hydrogels used for crop production to suitcases and doormats as well as the BAC Mono R- the first production car to use graphene-enhanced carbon fibre in each body panel.

Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in practical hands on workshops in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) focusing on subjects such as energy, printed electronics, health and safety and standards and characterisation.

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester said: “We are now seeing rapid developments and an increasing change of pace over the last year, dramatically changing the graphene landscape. More products are entering the market using graphene and we’re starting to see real-world benefits living up to the early excitement of just a few years ago.

With the National Graphene Institute and GEIC, our infrastructure is designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market.”

“We are now seeing rapid developments and an increasing change of pace over the last year, dramatically changing the graphene landscape.„

James Baker, CEO Graphene@Manchester

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Tuesday evening also offered a rare chance to hear from Nobel laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim, on his creative approach to scientific research, from levitating frogs to the fascinating phenomena of what happens to discarded graphite after graphene has been made.

The GEIC focuses on industry-led application development in partnership with academics. It will fill a critical gap in the graphene and 2D materials ecosystem by providing facilities which focus on pilot production, characterisation, together with application development in composites, energy, solution formulations and coatings, electronics and membranes.

Tags:  2D materials  Electronics  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Healthcare  James Baker  University of Manchester 

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Entrepreneur has sustainability challenge covered - with a SpaceMat

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, December 12, 2019
An entrepreneurial academic from The University of Manchester has produced a prototype graphene-enhanced product that could help the UK recycle tonnes of unwanted tyres – a waste product that is sometimes shipped overseas for disposal.

It is claimed that Western countries like the UK export waste tyres to developing nations like India where they are destroyed by burning - and so impacting on the local environment.

Dr Vivek Koncherry has launched a company called SpaceBlue Ltd that aims to recycle waste tyres by converting them into attractive and extremely hardwearing floor mats which have been enhanced with tiny amounts of graphene.

The hexagon-shaped SpaceMat™ can interlock to cover any desired floor area. They can be used at the entrances of homes, offices, public and industrial buildings, as well as wider applications such as anti-fatigue or anti-slip coverings in areas like workplaces, gyms, playgrounds and swimming pools.

Prototype mats will be revealed at a Graphene Industry Showcase to be hosted on December 10 and 11 at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC). This two-day event aims to put a spotlight on innovations associated with graphene and two-dimensional materials and will therefore feature a wide range of pioneering products.

“The innovation ecosystem at Manchester has been really supportive to someone like me who has a new business idea they want to take to market,” explained Dr Koncherry, who is an expert in materials applications and new manufacturing techniques.

“It all began when I first read newspaper reports that several thousand tonnes of waste UK tyres are being shipped abroad each year for disposal. I thought that needs to change and I became determined to find a much more sustainable way of using this end-of-life product.

“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product,” explained Dr Koncherry.

“The intention of SpaceBlue is to enhance the physical properties of recycled rubber waste that has come from discarded vehicle tyres or footwear - and convert this material into a high-value product”
Dr Vivek Koncherry

“SpaceMat™ is made of up to 80 per cent recycled rubber plus 20 per cent of graphene-enhanced natural rubber. Floor mats undergo compression and a fundamental study had shown that by adding graphene into the rubber it can double the compression strength - and this in turn increases durability.”

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, added: “Vivek’s vision to support a more sustainable society by creating a better performing product through the use of graphene is really exciting and has already generated interest.

“Moreover, we’re looking forward to collaborating with SpaceBlue via our ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme which will further support the development of the mats.”

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) the ‘Bridging the Gap’ initiative has been developed to proactively engage with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester and allow them to explore and apply graphene and other advanced two-dimensional materials in a wide range of applications and markets.

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  James Baker  University of Manchester  Vivek Koncherry 

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Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award 2019 Winners Announced

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Two new technology businesses share this year’s £70,000 prize for novel applications of graphene and other 2D materials. The two teams, based at The University of Manchester, are addressing key societal challenges on future energy and food security. They are seeking breakthroughs by using 2D materials to produce hydrogen to generate energy, and by designing polymer hydrogels to increase food production.

The Eli and Britt Harari Enterprise Award, in association with Nobel Laureate Sir Andre Geim, is awarded each year to help the implementation of commercially-viable business proposals from students, post-doctoral researchers and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on developing the commercial prospects of graphene and other 2D materials.

The first prize of £50,000 was awarded to NanoPlexus and its founding team Jae Jong Byun, Dr. Suelen Barg, Francis Moissinac, Wenji Yang and Thomas Moissinac. Jae and Wenji are undertaking their PhD studies in Dr. Suelen Barg’s research group (Nano3D), with Francis starting in September. Thomas is an aerospace engineering graduate from The University of Manchester. The team has worked under the Nano3D lab in formulating their idea into a marketable product.

NanoPlexus will be developing a range of products using their platform technology; the unique nano-material aerogel technology will offer cost-effective renewable hydrogen production with increased material efficiency for a sustainable green-economy.

Jae said: “Recently, there has been an increased footprint and sense of urgency to transition into renewable energy to tackle climate change. Our concept is ideally positioned to support this transition by acting as a stepping-stone for innovative technology growth into conventional energy systems. Our idea of 2D material-based cells supports the forecasted need of renewable energy implementation, as it uses low to zero carbon energy resources.”

Our commitment to the support of entrepreneurship across the University has never been stronger and is a vital part of our approach to the commercialisation of research. Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Francis added: “We are very grateful to Eli and Britt Harari for their generosity and for the support of the University, which will enable us to develop our novel concept that could one day make a meaningful difference; connecting innovation to convention.”

The runner-up, receiving £20,000, was AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd, founded by Beenish Siddique. Beenish has recently graduated with a PhD from the School of Materials. Her technology aims to provide an eco-friendly hydrogel to farmers that, not only increases crop production but also has potential to grow crops in infertile and water stressed lands, with minimum use of water and fertilisers.

Beenish said: “Many farmers, especially in third world countries with warmer climates, are interested in my product. I have a solution that offers higher crop yield with less water and fertiliser usage, hence, less greenhouse gases emission and a much cleaner environment.”

The quality of the business proposals presented in this year’s finals was exceptionally high. Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester and one of the judges for this year’s competition said: “Our commitment to the support of entrepreneurship across the University has never been stronger and is a vital part of our approach to the commercialisation of research. The support provided by Eli Harari over the last five years has enabled new and exciting ventures to be developed. It provides our winners the early-stage funding that is so vital to creating a significant business, while also contributing to health and social benefit. With support from our world-leading graphene research facilities I am certain that they are on the path to success.”

The winners will also receive support from groups across the University, including the University’s new state-of-the-art R&D facility, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC); its leading support infrastructure for entrepreneurs, the Masood Enterprise Centre; as well as wider networks to help the winners take the first steps towards commercialising these early stage ideas.

The award is co-funded by the North American Foundation for The University of Manchester through the support of one of the University’s former physics students, Dr Eli Harari, founder of global flash-memory giant, SanDisk, and his wife, Britt. It recognises the role that high-level, flexible, early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene and 2D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  AEH Innovative Hydrogel Ltd  Andre Geim  Beenish Siddique  Eli Harari  Graphene  Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre  Jae Jong Byun  Luke Georghiou  NanoPlexus  SanDisk  Suelen Barg  Thomas Moissinac  Wenji Yang 

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