The University of Manchester speaks at Future Cities Forum



Above - John Holden, Manchester University's Associate Vice-President for Major Special Projects



We are delighted that John Holden, Associate Vice-President for Major Special Projects at The University of Manchester, will be speaking at Future Cities Forum's Levelling up event in June.


The event will be held at The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and will discuss the role of university research and innovation in the levelling up agenda of cities.


John Holden joined the University as Associate Vice-President for Major Special Projects in January 2020. He is responsible for supporting major external bids relating to regional and national government and to private, commercial and charitable organisations. He also works with the government on locating key national and international activities in the Manchester city region.

He works closely with leaders across the University, and collaborates on cross-institution initiatives and with a wide range of external stakeholders.

John has extensive regional and national policy experience, with expertise in devolved regional. His previous roles include senior strategy and research at the New Economy think tank promoting regional growth and prosperity and most recently as the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Assistant Director, Strategy/Research.

John is a University alumnus, having studied for his BA (Hons) Economic and Social Studies and MA International Political Economy at Manchester from 1999 to 2003.

The University's research expertise is in - among other disciplines - enhancing the efficiency and viability of sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, tidal and bioenergy. It is supporting partners in the bridging of fuel sectors, such as oil and gas, to continue to meet demand.

It is helping to ensure energy gets to the point of need efficiently, providing UK network partners with the knowledge to deliver reliable and sustainable power. Renewable sources of generation tend to be more intermittent – so it is working on systems that will help keep supply constant, and finding ways to persuade people to use energy at the best times.

The University works closely with the local region on projects such as the UK’s largest ever trial of heat pumps. It is finding out more about how today’s urban society uses energy, blending expertise from engineering and the social sciences to learn more about demand and how it can be met.

Scientists at Manchester are supporting National Grid on a project funded through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) from the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) to address the challenge of increasing demand for electricity, particularly in more densely populated urban environments. This Discovery Phase project will be led by NGET with support from partners to develop an understanding of the barriers, opportunities, and benefits of modernising existing electricity infrastructure by replacing conventional cables with the use of High Temperature Superconductor (HTS) cable technology to increase network capacity in the urban environment. HTS cables have three to ten times higher power density than conventional cable systems, meaning they deliver higher capacity at lower voltage levels and via a lower number of routes. Lower voltage substations have smaller footprint, which is very beneficial for densely populated areas. HTS technology will allow faster network capacity increase, delivering time, cost, and carbon savings with reduced energy losses and wider environmental benefits including reduced disturbance to local communities caused by construction activities. The project aims to deliver benefits for ‘Whole system integration and decarbonisation’ by facilitating electrification of current and future needs for energy provision for heat, power, and transport while reducing the carbon impact of electricity system and evaluating the costs and opportunities of repurposing existing infrastructure and/or assets” such as existing cable routes, tunnels and substations leading to lower costs for upgrading infrastructure with HTS cabling. Additionally, the University has been extending and enhancing its buildings to meet the need for advanced research. This includes the Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD.) It is one of the single, largest construction projects undertaken by any UK higher education institution. The development for the University of Manchester will provide over 75,000m2 of modern facilities in a bespoke environment, to support world leading research and an outstanding teaching and learning experience for more than 8,000 students and staff.


Engineering group Arup, which will be speaking at Future Cities Forum's Manchester event, has been working with the University of Manchester since 2014 to deliver the multidisciplinary building and specialist engineering services for the MECD site. The campus will help transform how education is delivered, bringing together the four engineering and material science departments into one coherent facility.


Situated at the heart of the University of Manchester’s campus, MECD represents a £420m investment to support an integrated academic community, create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, enhance the student experience and maximise space efficiency. Designed with this in mind, the buildings will house a variety of advanced technologies and equipment to help the University achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 25 research universities in the world.

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