Driving the commercialisation of graphene
Our goal in the Innovation Work Package is to create stronger links between Graphene Flagship researchers and external market opportunities. We aim to maximise the project’s innovation potential through the creation of new ventures and spin-offs, the commercialisation of products and services based on of graphene and related materials (GRMs) through partnerships, as well as providing support in licensing intellectual property rights. We have a strong focus on business development, knowledge management and knowledge transfer.
The last 10 years
The Innovation Work Package has transformed its work from small, strategy and governance focused efforts to actively driving the Graphene Flagship’s commercialisation efforts on an operational level. The formation of the business development function, creation of the Spearhead Projects and active collaboration with other Work Packages and external stakeholders have had a profound effect on the results and success of the project. Overall, our Work Package was a catalyst in the evolution of the Graphene Flagship from basic research to economic impact.
Early innovation work focused on outreach events to help increase the visibility of graphene and the project. As the Graphene Flagship has progressed, the innovation efforts have evolved to be more concrete. Direct contact with large industrial players, emerging SMEs in the graphene value chain and spin-off companies drive the commercialisation of project outputs.
The Business Developers have played a key role in helping to launch spin-off companies and to attract private investment, which has reached a total of nearly €100M across our 17 spin-offs. Work Package Innovation also helped to select the six Core 2 and 11 Core 3 Spearhead Projects, significantly increasing industrial participation in the Graphene Flagship and growing the volume of high technology readiness level (TRL) development to 12 percent of the project’s budget in Core 2 and up to 30 percent in Core 3.
This year’s progress
The Innovation Work Package acts as a booster and enabler for the technical Work Packages. These actions include several activities. First, we offer business development support for the Work Packages and Spearhead Projects with eight Business Developers located at key Partner sites and organized thematically on the most promising application areas. Second, we provide support on intellectual property (IP) rights, new ventures, commercialised products and services and licensed technologies. Next, we ensure continued alignment between the Industrialisation Work Package’s technology and innovation roadmap (TIR) and the Graphene Flagship’s innovation objectives and strategies, as well as innovation policy and management support. Finally, we facilitate industry outreach activities including Innovation Workshops and webinars on various technical and industrial themes contributing to a structured overview of industry needs and preferences stemming both from these workshops and mapping efforts.
In 2022 the Innovation Work Package organised the Graphene Innovation Forum at Graphene Week in Munich, Germany. The Innovation Forum presents a dedicated programme on the commercialisation of GRMs for industry attendees at the Graphene Flagship’s annual conference. It is an opportunity to hear about the successful implementation of graphene from both start-ups and larger corporations. The Graphene Flagship Spearhead Projects and Business Developers presented their views on the challenges and opportunities for GRM applications. This year’s event gathered nearly 100 attendees and was followed by a networking break bringing stakeholders from industry and academia together to exchange ideas for GRM innovations. The Work Package also organized four webinars, including a series on sustainability of graphene.
The Graphene Flagship attended two tradeshows in 2022: Enlit Europe, focusing on the European Energy transition, and ILA Berlin, an aeronautics exhibition. Head of Innovation Kari Hjelt is on the Graphene Flagship’s Tradeshow Committee, and helped ensure that graphene is visible where the most promising application areas can be exploited. The Business Developers collaborated with the Dissemination Work Package in the selection of Partners, Associated Members, products and technologies to showcase at these shows. They also attended to help explain the commercial potential of GRMs in their application areas and act as spokespeople for the Graphene Flagship. At Enlit, Piero Gamarra, our Business Developer for energy applications, was interviewed for a podcast on how graphene will jump out of the lab and into commercial applications for the energy sector.
The Innovation Work Package aim to strengthen the project’s cooperation with industry stakeholders in order to increase the technology readiness levels of its outputs.
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For the past decade, the Graphene Flagship, the EU’s largest ever research programme, has been coordinated from Chalmers with Jari Kinaret at the helm. As the project reaches the ten-year mark, expectations have been realised, a strong European research field on graphene has been established, and the journey will continue.
Ali Shaygan Nia, business developer for graphene-based coatings and composites for the Graphene Flagship examines the innovations that have helped to develop ground-breaking solutions that enhance automotive components, improve safety and contribute to a greener future.