Public Release: 

Manchester awarded £1.5m to establish transatlantic composites partnership

University of Manchester

Lord Sainsbury, Science and Innovation Minister, has announced that The University of Manchester will be one of only four UK universities to lead transatlantic research partnerships under a new DTI pilot scheme.

The scheme, which is aimed at establishing world-class UK/US collaborations, will see The University of Manchester receive £1.5m over the next two years to develop new composite technologies and materials for future aircraft design in partnership The University of Washington (Seattle).

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, 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.


For further information:

Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, telephone: 0161 2758387 or email:

Notes to Editors:

  • Phil Withers is Professor of Materials Science within the School of Materials within the University's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

  • Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and SETsquared (a consortia of the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton and Surrey) have also been awarded a grant under the DTI's pilot scheme.

  • Funding for the project will commence in April 2006.


  • WUN is an international alliance of 16 research-led higher-education institutions of high standing who have created a worldwide research and education partnership to generate significant advances in knowledge and understanding. The partners are committed to excellence and innovation in research collaboration in multi-disciplinary areas of large-scale global significance. WUN acts to bring faculty together in communities of interest, and provides the infrastructural support and intellectual venture capital required to facilitate establishment and activity within innovative multi-institutional projects.

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