Graphene Focus 2015 – the journey so far
In the previous article, we looked at keynote presentations from the first day of Graphene Week 2015 in Manchester. Here we report on Graphene Focus, an open forum to which researchers, industrialists and the general public were invited to contribute questions. Graphene Focus is but one of many ways in which the Graphene Flagship makes itself accountable to the world beyond the research community, industry and the political establishment.
Graphene has a high news profile, and there is considerable public interest in such a potentially disruptive technology. Some are concerned about the health and safety implications of 2d materials, just as they were a decade ago with carbon nanotubes and other engineered nanomaterials. The flagship is therefore keen to facilitate an open debate on these and other issues relevant to our work.
Flagship director Jari Kinaret opened the discussion with a general overview of the structure and functions of the consortium. He outlined the various planning, funding and implementation stages, and spoke of the recent expansion of the flagship through the addition of new partners selected in an open competition. We also have a system of associate membership.
Following the director’s introduction, the five flagship representatives on the panel introduced themselves, providing a little background on their work. Panel members included Lancaster University physicist Vladimir Fal’ko, Amaia Zurutuza from the Bilbao-based production firm Graphenea, research administrator Katarina Boustedt from Chalmers University in Göteborg, Ana Helman from the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg, and Trieste University chemist Maurizio Prato, who coordinates flagship activities in environment, health and safety matters.
Several questions to the panel members followed the panel introductions. These related mostly to organisational setup and effectiveness, the detail of the flagship’s mission statement, and the state of play in Europe in comparison with that in America and Asia.
Some audience members expressed an interest in joining the flagship, and several panel members responded by speaking of the procedures involved. Both Zurutuza and Fal’ko stressed that new partners and associate members should have something that adds constructively to and complements the flagship’s current work. The benefits of membership are many and various, but so too are the obligations on flagship members, whether they be full partners or associates.
“Graphene Focus demonstrated that there is a great deal of interest in the flagship, both in Europe and abroad,” says flagship director Jari Kinaret. “In the coming days there will be many opportunities for further discussions.”
Photos: copyright © 2015 Anders Frick, Chalmers University of Technology