Lord Grimstone visit puts the spotlight on Materials at Manchester

On 14 July, the Henry Royce Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC)  were delighted to welcome Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Kt, Minister for Investment jointly at the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Lord Grimstone and other key officials visited the Royce Hub Building as part of a wider trip to Greater Manchester which included a meeting with Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, as well as a roundtable discussion hosted at the GEIC around how Manchester’s expertise and support for materials technologies at every level of research and development is making a significant contribution to delivering the UK’s ambitions around net zero and clean growth.

The Minister’s first stop on campus was the Royce Hub Building, where Royce CEO Professor David Knowles and Chief Scientist Professor Philip Withers presented Royce’s vision of advanced materials for a sustainable society. They set out the Royce activities which are identifying and accelerating materials innovation, examples included Royce’s materials roadmapping activities, the new collaboration space at the Hub, regional initiatives such as the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub (SMI Hub) and the state-of-the-art research facilities across the Royce Partnership.

Professor Sarah Cartmell, Head of Department of Materials, discussed research into biomedical materials, highlighting successful spin-outs and Professor Abbie Jones, Chair in Nuclear Graphite emphasised the opportunities and expertise around materials research for safe operation of new and future fission and fusion plant, perfectly aligned with the Government’s ten point plan. Lord Grimstone and other key officials had a tour of the Royce additive manufacturing laboratory, where Professor Brian Derby and the team showcased the facility.

Royce CEO Professor David Knowles said:

“we were delighted to be able to present to Lord Grimstone Royce’s role as the UK national institute and hub for advanced materials research and innovation.  In particular we discussed how we are engaging with the materials community to convey the impact and challenges of their research, developing solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

It was a perfect opportunity to show how Royce must act as a beacon to raise the profile on the importance of materials science and manufacturing to the UK economy, at a ministerial level.”

At the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) – a world-class accelerator that focuses on advanced materials applications and is based at The University of Manchester – Lord Grimstone saw graphene-enhanced innovation that had gone from lab to market, including the inov-8 running shoe, now a bestseller, plus a graphene-enhanced concrete (Concretene) that was recently poured as part of commerical project.

James Baker, CEO at Graphene@Manchester, said: “It was great to host Lord Grimstone at the GEIC and to showcase some great innovations around graphene products and applications, from lightweight composites to graphene-enhanced concrete to novel new coatings and inks in support of sustainability and the drive towards net-zero.

“We also introduced the minister to a range of our industry partners, including large international companies to start-ups and SMEs from our local area. There were some great discussions on how we can support these companies and, in turn, how our materials work in Manchester can support the government’s levelling up agenda in the North West.”