Professor Michael Shaver, Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub (SMI Hub) Director, and Professor David Knowles, Henry Royce Institute (Royce) CEO, have today welcomed guests to the Royce Hub Building at the University of Manchester to set out the capabilities of, and future plans for the SMI Hub which has its home in the building.
The SMI Hub was created by the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials in 2020 with funding from the European Regional Development Fund, to support the growing need to combat plastics pollution increasingly associated with major world cities. Located on Floor 6 of Royce’s flagship building in Manchester, the Hub aligns with the Institute’s mission to catalyse industrial collaboration and accelerate the translation of materials innovations into real world applications.
Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research at the University of Manchester opened the event, speaking about the sustainability research agenda at the University and the recently launched Sustainable Futures initiative, which brings together the unique depth and breadth of internationally leading research at The University of Manchester to produce integrated and truly sustainable solutions to urgent environmental challenges.
Professor Michael Shaver spoke about the inception of the SMI Hub, the progress that’s been made so far, and the importance of helping organisations become more environmentally sustainable with the development of game changing innovations in plastics circularity.
Professor David Knowles set out Royce’s vision and ambitious plans for the future of the SMI Hub. These link directly to Royce’s ‘Advanced materials for a sustainable society’ driver and the need to embed the concepts of through life cycle assessment when considering current and future material development. David highlighted that the SMI Hub is already delivering real impact and is an example of how an initiative within a National Research Institute can resonate with local companies to stimulate innovative capability and growth in a region, supporting our industrial base – a capability that Royce is seeking to embed across its Partnership.
The event also saw an important speech from Eamonn Boylan, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) CEO, who highlighted the importance of innovation to Greater Manchester’s economy and the ‘Green revolution’, a bold aim to make Manchester the country’s first zero-carbon city region, with an ambitious target date of 2040.
During the event, Sophie Walker, Co-founder and COO, Dsposal, who produce tech to help waste managers and waste producers handle their waste legally, efficiently, safely and in a way which protects the environment, spoke about how the SMI Hub and Dsposal have already been working together, and our ambitions for future projects. Hannah Baron, SMI Hub Industrial Liaison Officer talked about the Hub’s achievements and future plans, detailing projects the Hub has worked on with companies such as David Luke and Oceanbound, a community project with Greater Manchester breweries, as well as an upcoming project that will focus on large format printers.
Following the afternoon’s speeches, guests were taken on tours of the SMI Hub labs on the sixth floor of the Royce Building, where they were able to see the state-of-the-art equipment that facilitates the Hub to assess material properties, performance, and durability, and perform materials assessments to evaluate products, packaging and components to inform more sustainable choices.
Professor Michael Shaver, Director of the SMI Hub said:
“SMEs often don’t have the budget or time to make sustainability a priority. This Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub gives us the opportunity to help organisations become more environmentally sustainable and economically resilient alongside the development of game changing innovations in plastics circularity.”
Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-President for Research at the University of Manchester said:
“We have a global plastics waste crisis and we all have a part to play in turning the tide on this growing emergency – including critically important roles for industry and university teams to devise solutions.
“The sustainable production, use and recovery of value from plastics is at the heart of the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub’s mission. The Hub’s team is already helping businesses in Greater Manchester with innovative design, reuse and recycling of plastics and packaging. I am confident this and other Hub activities will help reduce plastic waste to the benefit of our planet.”
Eamonn Boylan, GMCA CEO said:
“Sustainability has never been more important to Greater Manchester than it is now. It’s therefore fantastic to welcome The Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub, part of the Henry Royce Institute, another key initiative within the Greater Manchester sustainability ecosystem.
“The SMI Hub, which is all about understanding, use, consumption and end-of-life of plastics across Greater Manchester is providing fantastic free enterprise support to our local SMEs, as well as state of the art research facilities; with a growing bank of case studies of companies who have improved their sustainability thanks to its services, from personal care products to breweries.”
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Notes to Editors
Images available on request
About the Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub
The SMI Hub was created by the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials in 2020 with funding from the European Regional Development Fund to support the growing need to combat plastics pollution increasingly associated with major world cities.
The SMI Hub’s current focus is supporting businesses in Greater Manchester with their use of plastics but Royce’s vision for the Hub is much greater. We hope to offer support at a national level and look to create sustainable solutions for many materials, driven by the need for a more circular economy.
About the Henry Royce Institute
The Henry Royce Institute is the UK national institute for advanced materials research. Operating with its Hub at The University of Manchester, the Institute is a Partnership of nine leading institutions – the universities of Cambridge, Imperial College London, Liverpool, Leeds, Oxford, Sheffield, the National Nuclear Laboratory, and UKAEA. In 2020, Cranfield University joined as an Associate Partner. Royce aims to support and grow world-recognised excellence in UK materials research, accelerating commercial exploitation and delivering positive economic and societal impact for the UK. The Institute is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation.
Communications Officer | Henry Royce Institute / NXCT / Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub
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