A start-up which is developing new techniques and materials for sustainable housing
using ‘wonder material’ graphene has begun a major initiative after securing nearly
£200,000 of government funding.
Manchester-based Vector Homes has been awarded a Smart Grant of £191,000 by
Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
The money will help fund a £275,000 research programme to develop graphene-
enhanced recycled plastic formulations for residential construction.The project will enhance polymers with nano-materials to increase strength,durability, thermal and acoustic performance and further recyclability.
Vector Homes chief executive and co-founder Nathan Feddy said the formulations
could also have applications in a variety of other sectors, such as aerospace,
automotive and packaging.
He said: “Securing funding from Innovate UK is a true vote of confidence in Vector
as we begin our journey. There is intense competition for its Smart Grants, so we are
honoured and thrilled to be awarded this funding.
“It enables us to kick-start our research project which will see us work with a supply
chain of partners across the UK and beyond, including several multi-billion dollar
“Our aim is to develop nano-material formulations which will greatly improve the
sustainability and durability of the homes of the future. The construction and
operation of the built environment accounts for 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas
emissions, and our mission is to help reduce its environmental impact as well as
bringing down costs.”
Vector is ultimately looking to mass manufacture sustainable and affordable smart
housing flat-packs from graphene-enhanced recycled materials.
The houses will feature hundreds of sensors which will help to provide smart
environmental controls throughout.
The sensors will feed information to a ‘brain’ – the Vector Node – which will measure
the temperature and humidity in each room.
The system will close roller blinds to keep rooms cool in the summer, or open
bathroom vents in the winter to allow the humidity out. Each Vector home will also
feature solar panels and the energy they generate will be stored in batteries which
will be used to power the property.
Nathan said: “The materials used in our houses will be from recycled, energy
efficient sources with a much lower carbon footprint than virgin materials. They can
be recycled at end of life if they cannot be reused, contributing to the circular
“Our homes have been designed to enable rapid production and assembly, and will
have unique features that enable easy maintenance and modification throughout the
life cycle, which also means they can quickly incorporate new technologies as they
“The design has already attracted interest from housing associations, which will be a
key target market. They manage and maintain huge numbers of houses, which
brings significant logistical challenges that Vector can address.”
Vector Homes is partnering with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at the
University of Manchester for the research project. Nathan and chief technical officer
Dr Liam Britnell met while working there as colleagues before opting to focus full
time on their venture earlier this year.
Nathan said: “We are delighted to be joining the GEIC at the centre of Manchester's
world-leading advanced materials ecosystem. This partnership is a fantastic
opportunity to develop the materials and systems that will enable us to achieve our
goal of cutting carbon emissions and the costs of construction.
James Baker, chief executive of Graphene@Manchester, of which the GEIC is part,
said: “It’s great to see high-calibre start-ups such as Vector Homes utilising
graphene’s multifaceted capabilities to make a positive sustainable impact on critical
“We look forward to supporting Vector Homes’ development in the
Assessors on the Innovate UK panel which awarded Vector Homes the grant said
the company had identified ‘a potentially significant commercial opportunity for new
construction materials offering improved fire safety and reduced environmental
impact’, adding that its vision addresses many of the key issues facing future
They praised Vector’s ‘excellent technical understanding, solid knowledge of the
market and clear, well-defined propositions’ which should ensure the project is a