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Access to graphene

Manchester has received millions in public funding for graphene, without competition. Craig Nicholson asks researchers elsewhere how they will benefit.

Last month, the Nobel prize-winning graphene researcher Andre Geim made headlines when he said that graphene, a so-called wonder material, was “more or less done”, and that the £61-million National Graphene Institute in Manchester represented “money being put into the building industry rather than science”. The NGI, which opened in March, received £38m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and £23m from the European Union.

Of course, Geim’s comment could be considered true of any capital spending. James Baker, the NGI’s business director, says that Geim was arguing for the government to spend more money on fundamental research as well as providing capital. Part of Baker’s role at the institute is to attract industry funding, but “you’ve got to keep that in the right balance” with funding for fundamental research, he says.

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