The contractor has handed over the first phase of the £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at The University of Manchester, with works “well under way” on fitting out laboratories ahead of the centre opening before the end of the year.
The 90,400 sq ft GEIC, designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, will focus on industry-led application development in partnership with academics, accelerating the commercial pace of graphene and 2D materials development.
This is the first project Laing O’Rourke has completed as part of The University of Manchester Construction Partnering Framework, with the next project, the £105m Henry Royce Institute, due to complete in 2019.
Liam Cummins, head of UK Building for Laing O’Rourke, said: “We’re delighted to hand over this fantastic facility on time and on budget for The University of Manchester and its funding partners.
“As an engineering enterprise committed to innovation and excellence in our own delivery, it is exciting to think about the potential developments that will come to fruition here at the GEIC and I know our team are rightfully proud of our achievements.”
The £60m GEIC project has been funded by Masdar, an Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy and clean technology company; Research England; the European Regional Development Fund; the Greater Manchester Combined Authority through the Local Growth Fund; and Innovate UK.
The facility complements the existing National Graphene Institute, delivered by Bam in 2015, as Manchester looks to build on the Nobel Prize-winning work done by the University in this area of materials science. It is also intended as a cornerstone for commercial development at the University’s North Campus, as one of the early parts of the “Graphene City” vision.
James Baker, chief executive of business-facing development body Graphene@Manchester – which encompasses both GEIC and the NGI – said: “The GEIC is a key component of the University’s strategy for Graphene@Manchester. The centre’s aim is to accelerate the commercialisation to real world applications to transition graphene and other 2D materials from the lab to the marketplace.”