Morgan Advanced Materials has announced a new joint development agreement with The University of Manchester, aimed at scaling up a new process for manufacturing graphene – a one-atom thick carbon allotrope first isolated at the university ten years ago and for which two Nobel Prizes were awarded.
The world’s thinnest material and a potent conductor, graphene is also extremely lightweight, chemically inert and has a large surface area which means, with further research and testing, it could change the way we think about electrical and chemical engineering.
Bringing together some of the University’s leading graphene researchers and Morgan’s 150 years of carbon processing expertise, the partnership will explore the full potential of graphene, with a particular interest in understanding and optimising the relationship between the manufacturing process and materials science. The partnership has been established to improve the prospects of bringing this material to commercial reality. Morgan initially began work with The University of Manchester in early 2010 on a number of Government-funded materials and related programmes, and the joint graphene development agreement represents the next stage in this relationship.
The University of Manchester, the home of graphene, was where the scientific discovery was made. It has around 200 graphene researchers and is a world leader in applied and fundamental graphene research. The £61m National Graphene Institute at the University is set to open in early 2015, funded by £38m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £23m from the European Regional Development Fund. The integrated Morgan and University academic team will therefore be working within a significant community of graphene expertise and facilities.
Dr Mike Murray, Chief Technology Officer of Morgan Advanced Materials commented: “With decades of expertise in developing specialist carbon-based materials, Morgan’s material scientists will be based full time at the university, working closely with academic colleagues to understand the manufacturing mechanism and properties of graphene, helping us explore the applications where the technology can be used for optimum benefit.”
Clive Rowland, CEO of the University’s Innovation Company, UMI3, added: “To explore and fully exploit the properties of graphene, commercial partnerships are vital. I am very pleased with our collaboration with Morgan, which is based around an intellectual property project that we have taken to the proof-of-principle stage. We have consistently said that joining forces with world-class companies like Morgan Advanced Materials and tapping into such engineering and industrial experience will help us realise the full potential of the material and greatly assist us in overcoming the myriad challenges of taking an entirely new material from the laboratory all the way through to the manufacturing stage and ultimately to market adoption of industrial products and perhaps consumer products in due course.”
For more information on graphene visit www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk
The University of Manchester is pleased to announce that the acquisition, by Versarien plc, of 85% of the shares in its graphene subsidiary, 2-DTech Limited, has today completed.
Start-up company 2-DTech offers a wide range of graphene services, from materials supply and characterisation work, through to consulting and proof-of-principle work on applications and processes.
It also has a proprietary interest in a number of projects including an environmentally-friendly method of producing high quality graphene sheets, which is a collaboration between the University, 2-DTech and Ulster University and is currently being scaled up.
The deal is a further step in creating Graphene City ® in Manchester, where the National Graphene Institute is set to open in less than a year’s time and where 150 academic scientists and engineers are currently working on graphene at the University.
Versarien will also set up an intellectual property and research collaboration with the University, initially investing some £300,000 in two projects, which will add to its own and to 2-DTech’s product range, in areas such as graphene composites.
Branson Belle, CTO of 2-DTech, welcomes the deal, saying: “We are very excited by this partnership. Versarien brings real-life experience in process scale-up and manufacturing to complement 2-DTech’s understanding of the nature and quality threshold requirements for various applications of graphene, which is a rare skill set. This will accelerate 2-DTech’s business success.”
Clive Rowland, CEO of the University’s Innovation Group (UMI3) said: “Our general model for technology transfer is to involve industrial participants as soon as we have developed a business proposition and gained some market recognition, in order to bring in relevant domain knowledge and marketing expertise, whether we do so through research collaborations, licensing, and/or start-up companies. This tailors our deal flow to the market and leads to quicker uptake by firms. Therefore I am delighted that we have been able to agree this arrangement with Versarien which takes 2-DTech to a new level and allows the University to share in the future success of the business by remaining a shareholder and also receiving a royalty on sales.
Given the origin and location of 2-DTech in Manchester, the home of graphene, it places the company at the heart of the developing landscape for graphene applications. The scope for opportunities for 2-DTech, in its new relationship with a forward thinking British engineering company like Versarien, offers the business potential to make a real mark in both graphene production and products and in other ‘two dimensional’ materials too.”
Mike Emmerich, CEO of New Economy Manchester said: “It is very pleasing to see that 2-DTech will remain a Manchester-based company and be enhanced by the contribution that Versarien will make to its business growth. Manchester is a very business-friendly city and is committed to seeing it become the world’s leading cluster for graphene science, engineering and business. I am sure that 2-DTech has a successful future here.”
Dr Belle is available for interview on request.
More information on graphene is available from www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk
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IP Group plc (LSE: IPO) (“IP Group” or “the Company” or “the Group”), the developer of intellectual property based businesses, is delighted to announce that it has extended its commercialisation agreement with The University of Manchester (“the University”) through its technology transfer company, UMI3 Ltd, to include Proof-of-Principle (“PoP”) funding for graphene projects.
The Group also announces that, subject to completion of its Capital Raising announced on 23 January 2014, it intends to commit a further £2.5 million of funding, bringing the total to £7.5 million, under the revised terms of the agreement which has also been extended to 2019. The Capital Raising is due to complete on 14 February 2014.
Sir Kostya Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim first isolated graphene at The University of Manchester in 2004 and their ground-breaking experiments on the material earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
The University is also the home of the National Graphene Institute (NGI). The £61m 7,600 square metre building, which is due to open next year, will house state-of-the-art facilities. Funding for the NGI will come from the Government (£38m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), as part of £50m allocated for graphene research, and from the European Research and Development Fund (£23m).
Graphene, a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure, is the thinnest material known and yet also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.
Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive of IP Group, said: “The University is world famous for being the home of the isolation of graphene and we are delighted to have reached agreement with UMI3 around funding graphene projects. IP Group’s first graphene company, Applied Graphene Materials, floated on AIM in November and we look forward to making more investments in this exciting area.”
Clive Rowland, UMI3 CEO, said: “The University has been developing a number of intellectual property projects which have now reached the stage where Proof-of-Principle investment is necessary to take them to the next phase and to bring on another set of inventions coming through our system. The University’s very active engagement with industrial companies is informing our understanding of which graphene areas are most relevant to develop and the possibilities for setting up intellectual property joint ventures with companies already in the market place means that our projects will be well placed for market adoption. We have been working with IP Group since last year and feel that its expertise, resources and investment capital adds significant and complementary value to our own well regarded innovation system and networks. A partnership of this nature achieves a critical mass necessary to succeed in an emerging technology field like graphene.”
IP Group signed its original agreement with the University, through UMI3, in February 2013. Under the terms of that agreement, IP Group agreed to create a PoP funding facility for the identification and formation of new spin-out companies and to make available an initial facility of up to £5 million to provide capital to new proof of principle projects intended for commercialisation through spin-out companies.
In return, IP Group receives equity stakes in such spin-out companies on pre-agreed terms and has the right to invest further in these companies as they progress. In addition, IP Group provides access to its relevant experts, business building expertise, mentoring, coaching and co-investing networks, recruitment and business support.
For more information, please contact:
IP Group plc www.ipgroupplc.com
Alan Aubrey, Chief Executive Officer +44 (0) 20 7444 0050
Liz Vaughan-Adams, Communications +44 (0) 20 7444 0062 / +44 (0) 7979 853 802
Ben Atwell, John Dineen +44 (0) 20 7831 3113
Clive Rowland, Chief Executive +44 (0)161 603 7750
Press office: Allan Prits +44 (0)161 606 7240