New Economy, the strategic lead for economic growth in Greater Manchester, has welcomed the Government's announcement of a new £50m global research and technology centre to commercialise graphene.
Graphene, discovered by Manchester University scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, is the thinnest and strongest material known to science and conducts electricity better than any other substance. Its potential uses include flexible touchscreens, pollution sensors and biomedical sensors.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "One year ago scientists working in Manchester won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of graphene – the Global Hub will ensure we win the race to develop commercial uses for it as well. The Hub will keep world-beating research into graphene in this country. It brings researchers and the companies seeking to exploit its incredible commercial potential together.
"This is an excellent example of leading-edge British science being harnessed to drive economic growth and the creation of high-tech jobs."
New Economy, which works to make sure innovation and science in Manchester is converted into jobs through commercial opportunities of such innovations, said it is now working to ensure the centre is based in Manchester.
Mike Emmerich, chief executive of New Economy, added: "This is a very important day for Manchester and the UK. A year ago our city became the home of a Nobel prize. Today's announcement marks the start of the next phase of investment, turning graphene into jobs and growth. We've succeeded in keeping the research in Britain in the face of stiff international competition. Now my team will do everything in its power to ensure the Hub comes to Manchester, where 80-90% of the graphene research currently takes place."
New Economy said the centre would be well placed in Manchester and act as a catalyst to spawn new businesses, attract global companies and translate the value of scientific discovery into wealth and job creation for the UK.
The Government said the centre will ensure leading researchers stay in Britain, leverage private sector investment and help develop a home grown high-tech industry.
The Government, through the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, has supported the early research which led to the discovery of grapheme.
There are graphene centres of research excellence at Manchester, Cambridge, Lancaster, Exeter, Bath, Oxford and Durham universities and Imperial College London.
New Economy works with the ten local authorities of Greater Manchester, as well as other public sector organisations, businesses and universities across Manchester.