Bluestone Global Tech, one of the world's largest graphene manufacturers, has agreed a £5m collaborative research partnership to open its European base at Manchester University.
Bluestone currently has laboratories in New York and Taiwan and specialises in the mass production of high-quality 2D materials to enable the commercialisation of many graphene-enhanced applications such as advanced displays, flexible electronics, energy storage materials and cosmetics.
Graphene was first isolated at Manchester University by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov in 2004, earning them the Nobel prize for Physics in 2010. The material is 200 times stronger than steel and just one atom thick – making it the strongest, thinnest and most conductive material ever measured.
Work started on the £61m National Graphene Institute at Manchester University this year. Funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and the European Regional Development Fund, it will provide a centre for industry and University academics to work side by side on emerging graphene applications.
The Bluestone deal marks the first strategic partnership of the NGI.
The partnership will allow Manchester University academics to work closely on research projects with Bluestone, in order to produce the next generation of graphene applications.
The university has more than 100 scientists and engineers working on graphene and other 2D materials, across all disciplines providing the expertise and critical mass Bluestone and other industrial partners require.
Bluestone will initially open a pre-production facility and offices at the university to partner with consumer companies, before setting up larger European headquarters and a pilot production plant within Manchester.
Bluestone joins Graphene Industries and 2D-Tech, the university spin-out companies supplying graphene and other 2D materials around the world, in a group of graphene manufacturers based at the university.
Professor Colin Bailey, vice-president and dean of the faculty of engineering and physical sciences, said: "This partnership will help in the commercialisation of graphene creating further jobs in Manchester which will be of benefit to the UK economy."
Dr. Chung Ping Lai, chief executive officer for Bluestone Global Tech, said: "Bluestone has led the production of large area graphene since the establishment of its North American operation in New York. The increasing demand for our materials and expertise in Europe has prompted our decision to establish the Bluestone Global Tech brand in Europe with the setting of its operation in the UK."
BAM Construction is building the National Graphene Institute, which was designed by architect Jestico + Whiles.
Located at the main university campus on Booth Street East, the NGI will be housed within a compact 81,000 sq ft five-storey building, with a 16,000 sq ft research lab for graphene scientists to collaborate with their colleagues from industry and other UK universities.