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Mayor discusses potential graphene partnership with major Chinese city during trade visit


THE Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has discussed a potential graphene partnership with a major Chinese city as part of his trade visit.

He has been visiting the city of Tianjin over the past few days and conversations took place about a potential research collaboration between The University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute and the Tianjin Economic Development Area.

Graphene is hailed as the strongest and most conductive material in the world, with a huge range of electronic, material and even medical applications. It was pioneered by two University of Manchester physicists, Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, who received a Nobel Prize for their work in 2010.

Andy met with Tianjin Mayor, Zhang Guoqing, and they discussed potential opportunities for collaboration between the city-region and Tianjin, which is one of China’s major commercial areas. They talked specifically about graphene and the possibility of the two places working closely together in the future.

He also gave him a view of Greater Manchester’s rich industrial legacy and history of innovation, before they discussed future opportunities for trade and investment between the two cities.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: "Manchester is internationally recognised as the home of graphene and by working with international partners, including in China, we can realise the substance’s incredible potential.

"Millions of pounds of research is taking place in Greater Manchester and also here in Tianjin and a collaboration between the two regions is an exciting prospect. I’m pleased with the discussions we held and am looking forward to more conversations in the future and hearing about any progress that is made."

The University of Manchester is in the process of agreeing a potential collaborative graphene research programme with Tianjin.

Discussing the talks, CEO of Graphene@Manchester, James Baker, said: "We have had a huge amount of interest in graphene-related collaboration between the University and China, especially since President Xi Jinping’s visit to the NGI in 2015. Discussions with Tianjin have been positive so-far and a potential partnership could strengthen Manchester’s links with China and help accelerate the impact of graphene research and applications."

Science and innovation is an important backbone of the UK-China relationship highlighted by the recent development of a joint-strategy between the UK and Chine to strengthen collaboration.

During President Xi’s recent state visit to the UK, the only city outside of London he visited was Manchester, including seeing the work of the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester.

Graphene has the potential to have a huge impact on our day to day life, allowing us to charge a mobile phone in seconds or an electric car in minutes. It could also increase the lifespan of lithium ion batteries and graphene supercapacitors could provide massive amounts of power while using much less energy than conventional devices.

While in Tianjin, Andy attended an Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders, where he talked about how establishing a thriving and productive economy in all parts of Greater Manchester and to addressing the challenges we face.

An Assembly of City Leaders was also held as part of the visit with Mayors from around the World, including from Milan, Dallas, Rome and Montreal, gathering to discuss the challenges facing the cities and innovation taking place there and share ideas.

Andy said: "Greater Manchester is a global city-region, we are working and trading with other areas on an international scale, something which is providing us with huge benefits. World class innovation is taking place here and we can do even more by working with other areas."

"From the time of the industrial revolution, we have led the way and continue to do so today. Getting the most out of what we have here will only happen by working with others. What is clear from this trip is that there is so much we can learn from others but that we have so much to give to them.

"With the current world economic and trade situation Greater Manchester is in a perfect place to find the solution to the problems we face in the 21st century. Cities have a more important role than ever to play in breaking down barriers and we are excited about the relationships we started to form this week."

Article Published: 14/12/2018 13:58 PM