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Manchester 2D materials Centre announces first partners

First Graphene, Haydale Graphene Industries, and Versarien partner with £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) to commercialise graphene and other 2D materials

The University of Manchester's recently completed £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) has agreed the first in a series of industrial partnerships to accelerate the commercialisation of graphene and other 2D materials such as hexagonal BN and MoS2.

First Graphene, Haydale Graphene Industries, and Versarien have each agreed to partner with the GEIC, which is housed in the Masdar building near Manchester city centre. Along with the National Graphene Institute (NGI) and the Henry Royce Institute (set to be completed in 2019) the GEIC has aims to maintain the UK's world leading position in advanced materials.

James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester said: "The GEIC is a key component of the University's strategy for Graphene@Manchester. Our aim is to accelerate the commercialisation of real-world applications and transition graphene and other 2D materials from the lab to the marketplace. The GEIC will bring in an additional 30 staff in addition to academics to grow community to over 300 graphene-related staff at the University.

"First Graphene, Haydale and Versarien are the first companies to sign-up with the GEIC as a "˜Tier One' partners. We anticipate that Tier One partners are likely to be larger SMEs and multinationals with interests that span multiple application domains."

Tier One partnership benefits include access to world-leading expertise and experience along with specialist equipment within the GEIC to aid projects which will accelerate product and process development and market entry.

The GEIC will focus 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.

First Graphene is known for the manufacture of bulk scale graphene by electrochemical exfoliation of graphite. Previously, First Graphene has successfully developed a number of applications for graphene through collaboration with Australian universities, including FireStop fire retardant and BEST supercapacitors. This agreement initiates its first major collaboration within the UK.

Haydale has partnered with the GEIC following-on from previous work with the NGI. Based in Loughborough, the company focuses on enabling technology for the commercialisation of graphene and other nanomaterials. In addition to becoming a Tier One partner Haydale has also committed to sponsoring a graphene PhD student for four years as part of a growing strategic relationship.

Haydale CEO Ray Gibbs said: "We are really delighted to be a part of the applications developments focus for graphene products in the iconic GEIC. We are housing our patented HT60 plasma reactor in the building to functionalise a range of graphene and other 2D materials where correct chemical bonding is a key part of the dispersion techniques we employ. Complete dispersion is the key to performance improvement in key industrial areas such as composite structures, elastomers and conductive inks.

"This initiative is attracting national and international collaboration partners to a world-renowned Graphene and nanomaterials research and development facility. We are looking forward to adding real value to potential and existing business partners looking for application specific uplifts in improving performance across a range of products."

Versarien has also continued its partnership with The University of Manchester and have agreed to partner with the GEIC as part of the company's increasing production capabilities of graphene.

Neil Ricketts, CEO of Versarien said: "I am delighted that Versarien has joined the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre as a Tier One partner. Through the GEIC we will be able to access a world class facility and be at the heart of graphene developments. We will also benefit from working alongside other GEIC partners, enabling us to further advance the commercialisation of graphene."

The University of Manchester is also in discussions with a number of other companies for both Tier One and Tier Two partnerships. The Tier Two has been developed in particular for engagement with smaller businesses as well as those businesses who wish to explore how graphene can really make a benefit for their business or product range.

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