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Lightweight structures in Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester’s accelerated Carbon Neutrality target of 2038 is creating opportunities to demonstrate innovative low carbon solutions at scale using lightweight materials.

As the home of graphene and advanced materials, the centre of Europe’s largest aerospace cluster and a supply chain of 300 automotive companies, Greater Manchester is a hub for lightweight materials and structures.

The region is ripe for successful commercialisation of advanced lightweight structures.


Greater Manchester (North West)

Investment type:

Foreign direct investment


Sustainable infrastructure, Zero emission vehicles

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Sector and market opportunity

Greater Manchester has a well-developed supply chain, established infrastructure and excellent research facilities.

These ensure companies are well placed to capitalise on the £138 billion global opportunity in lightweight structures for transport applications.

Growth prospects

Global demand for lightweight structures is growing, especially in the transport sector. A key driver is increased demand for more efficient transport solutions, led by the global decarbonisation initiative.

UK demand comes from aerospace, automotive and rail companies based in the North West as well as the wider UK, and further European opportunities are only hours away.


Greater Manchester combines world-leading research, a deep talent pool and global connectivity, all at a competitive cost.

This provides the right conditions for commercialisation in advanced lightweight structures across the aerospace, automotive and rail industries.


The region has the third-largest UK airport, with more than 200 international destinations and connections to major business hubs in Europe, Asia, the US and Middle East.

One of the best road networks in the UK provides easy access to all major cities, and the strong rail infrastructure offers 60 fast trains daily including 2 hours’ travel to London.

Local talent and skills

More than 14,000 students are in disciplines relevant to advanced structures.

The North West and Greater Manchester have a high level of productivity and higher employment in manufacturing than national averages, including 19% better labour savings.

Research and expertise

The Henry Royce Institute, the national centre for advanced materials research and innovation, has its Hub in Manchester.

It is a partnership of nine leading UK universities and institutions, providing £300 million worth of facilities, to accelerate commercialisation of world-leading materials innovation.

The National Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre provide world-leading facilities for graphene research and commercialisation.

Manchester Metropolitan University provides industrial support and collaboration with research centres including the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre and Print City.

Region Spotlight
North of England


The North of England is recognised as a global centre for creativity and design and attracts thriving international investment. This heritage of expertise and manufacturing know-how is well established on the world stage, and historically gave birth to the Industrial Revolution.

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Enabling clean growth

There is a projected global opportunity of £171 billion in lightweight structures by 2023. Greater Manchester offers an ideal access point with capabilities and expertise including light alloys, technical textiles, graphene, coatings and composites.

Local and national government support

Local partners in Greater Manchester can work directly with companies to aid growth and take advantage of further opportunities.

Hello Manchester is a soft-landing initiative providing discounted space, flexible leases and introductory offers from partner legal and accounting firms.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority Core Business Fund offers loans and equity of between £0.5 and £5 million for businesses looking to create jobs in the region.

Success stories


Gerdau is a provider of made-to-order specialist steel products for applications in the automotive, commercial vehicle, agriculture, construction, and energy markets. It chose Manchester for part of its R&D initiative, believing there’s no better place for innovation and ease of doing business.

Gerdau’s presence in the region is designed for prospecting new businesses and conducting research to offer more solutions to their customers, initially focused on anti-corrosion coatings, automotive composites and energy storage.

Nippon Electric Glass Fibre

Electric Glass Fibre UK is the only reinforcement glass fibre manufacturing company in the UK, producing E-Glass filaments in Wigan, Greater Manchester.

Composites will play a major role in delivering the UK’s ten point plan through delivery of lightweight structures to sectors including automotive and renewables.

Greater Manchester is ideal for innovation and commercialisation of its raw material and the Wigan site is a major employer to the local community.

Hero Cycle

Hero Cycle, the world’s biggest manufacturer of bicycles, established its Global Design Centre in Manchester in 2017. It can access the talent for R&D and design and collaborates with the world class universities to develop e-bikes.

The logistics and distribution of bicycles requires Manchester’s rail, sea and road connections, while the international airport provides easy access for its global workforce.

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