£1.5m Transatlantic Composites Partnership

11 November 2005

The UK’s University of Manchester will receive £1.5m over the next two years to develop new composite technologies and materials for future aircraft design in partnership with The University of Washington in Seattle, under a new DTI pilot scheme aimed at establishing world-class UK/US collaborations.

The partnership will formally establish the Manchester Seattle Composite Partnership (MSCP). The MSCP will work with the Northwest Aerospace Alliance, Airbus, Boeing and a wide range of businesses in the UK and US.

Lord Sainsbury, Science and Innovation Minister, said: "Building bridges between world class universities and high-tech companies in our two countries is an excellent way to generate new opportunities and drive forward innovative ideas.

"These new science and innovation partnerships will help bring together the best of UK and US universities and companies and help make the UK the best place for science and innovation, increasing industrial competitiveness and knowledge transfer."

Professor Phil Withers, of the University of Manchester, said: "The development of civil aerospace composites is the key to future 'greener' aircraft, but the lack of proven test methodologies and durability assessment procedures is limiting composite take up in new products. What this partnership gives us is the opportunity to unlock the potential composite materials have to offer the aerospace industry."

Manchester's collaboration with Seattle will feed directly into the continuing development and assembly of new composite designs. The project will also focus on the development of new methodologies to test safety levels of composite materials. It will also seek to formally evaluate the constraints of current composite design and certification processes.

The project, which was initiated through the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) of which Manchester and Seattle are members, builds on the composites programme initiated by the Northern Aerospace Technology Exploitation Centre (NATEC) and the Northwest Development Agency (NWDA). A significant part of the project fund will be dedicated to delivering trained graduates in the composite area in the US and the UK. Funding for the project will commence in April 2006.

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