The new building will be in addition the £40m National Graphene Institute that BAM is currently building for the university.
The purpose of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) is to provide facilities so that graphene based products can be fast tracked from the drawing board to the market.
The plan is that the GEIC facility will also stimulate the commercial redevelopment of the university’s North Campus next to Piccadilly Station to create a cornerstone for ‘graphene city’ and a wider centre for advanced materials.
Graphene has been proclaimed the world’s thinnest material and is reputedly 200 times stronger than structural steel. A carbon allotrope, it was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004 by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin (Kostya) Novoselov, who were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics.
It is a one atom thick pure carbon material. Envisaged applications range from food packaging that can show when the food goes off to bendy mobile phones with enormous battery life.
The new building will be partially funded by £15m from the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF), £5m from Innovate UK (formally the Technology Strategy Board) and £30m from Masdar, the Abu Dhabi-based clean technology and renewable energy company. The remainder will be sourced by The University of Manchester from available funding schemes including European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project was announced by chancellor George Osborne on a visit to the university yesterday. He said: “Graphene is potentially a game-changer – its properties make it one of the most important commercial scientific breakthroughs in recent memory. It presents tremendous opportunities with the potential to provide thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of further investment.
“This new centre, alongside the National Graphene Institute, has put Manchester and the UK in pole position to take advantage of these opportunities and lead the world in this exciting new technology. We don’t just want to see ‘discovered in Britain’. We want to see ‘made and manufactured in Britain’.”
Prof Sir Kostya Novoselov said: “The Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre is the critical step in ensuring that innovative ideas developed in the UK could contribute to economic growth here and worldwide. It will serve as one of the keystones in supporting science, technology and innovation in the UK.”