The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and The University of Manchester’s agent for IP commercialisation (UMIP) are set to work together to enhance the innovation output of the University’s extensive research base. The partnership will fast-track the innovation process by embracing the business acumen of entrepreneurs and business alongside its creative academic researchers and intellectual property to build and share value through company formation and licensing. The UMIP EIT scheme will work closely with, but be independent of, the existing ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ (EIR) scheme already undertaken by the STFC.
UMIP’s ‘Entrepreneur in Transit’ scheme (EIT) will complement its current activities in the commercialisation of intellectual property and will build new capability to enhance technology commercialisation outputs. This scheme will integrate with existing UMIP infrastructure and mechanisms wherever possible to inject additional entrepreneurial flair and domain expertise. Entrepreneurs will work alongside UMIP’s venture team within identified Schools so as to be closer to the academic innovators. One of the first EIT schemes at the University will be in the School of Physics and Astronomy which has a very strong link with STFC via its big science projects.
Dr Rich Ferrie, Director of IP Commercialisation, Head of UMIP, comments: “The University of Manchester has a rich and successful history of IP commercialisation spanning over two decades, and yields over 370 inventions a year. Our role is to harness this creative output and build “real world” applications through spinning out new technology-based companies and by licensing to industry.
Our partnership provides the foundations of the new UMIP EIT scheme and will enable creative innovation teams to be formed between our academics and external entrepreneurs and businesses at a much earlier stage than our standard process. In principle, this should allow us to respond to the needs of the market in a more agile way and direct our innovation activities at better validated commercial targets, priming our IP for earlier and more successful commercialisation. We are sending out a signal that UMIP is literally “open for business” and willing to share value with those seasoned entrepreneurs who are willing to share risk with us along this exciting journey.”
STFC will be providing support through their experience, models and case studies of stimulating new projects by engaging with external entrepreneurs. One such example is such as Cella Energy, a spin-out from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory RAL at Harwell, developing safe, low cost hydrogen storage technologies. Another STFC Business Venture Project is Surfuzion™ (NanoSpray) where entrepreneur Adrian Ryder has been working alongside Prof Bob Stevens, providing the business and general management input and perspective. Adrian has a background in the surface coating industry and material modification from his time running both surface treatment and filtration technology and manufacturing companies.
Ian Tracey, who runs the STFC Entrepreneur in Residence programme, said: “We have demonstrated the importance of matching investment ready management, to our world class science to increase the Economic Impact of our science base and to increase the ease by which investment money can be obtained. There is every reason to work with UMIP in scaling this up across their innovation landscape and to co-create new research based enterprises.”
For further information about UMIP’s EIT scheme, please contact:
Tony Walker, Head of Sales and Marketing
0161 603 7780
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Wonder material graphene could not only dominate the electronic market in the near future, it could also lead to a huge range of new markets and novel applications, a landmark University of Manchester paper claims.
Writing in Nature, Nobel Prize-winner Professor Kostya Novoselov and an international team of authors has produced a ‘Graphene Roadmap’ which for the first time sets out what the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material can truly achieve.
The paper details how graphene, isolated for the first time at The University of Manchester by Professor Novoselov and colleague Professor Andre Geim in 2004, has the potential to revolutionise diverse applications from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to anticancer drugs and computer chips.
One key area is touchscreen devices, such as Apple’s iPad, which use indium tin oxide. Graphene’s outstanding mechanical flexibility and chemical durability are far superior. Graphene touchscreen devices would prove far more long-lasting and would open a way for flexible devices.
The authors estimate that the first graphene touchscreen devices could be on the market within three to five years, but will only realise its full potential in flexible electronics applications.
Rollable e-paper is another application which should be available as a prototype by 2015 – graphene’s flexibility proving ideal for fold-up electronic sheets which could revolutionise electronics.
Timescales for applications vary greatly upon the quality of graphene required, the report claims. For example, the researchers estimate devices including photo-detectors, high-speed wireless communications and THz generators (for use in medical imaging and security devices) would not be available until at least 2020, while anticancer drugs and graphene as a replacement for silicon is unlikely to become a reality until around 2030.
The paper also details the different ways of producing graphene – processes which have evolved hugely from the sticky tape method pioneered by the Nobel Laureates.
The paper asserts that there are three main methods for making graphene:
Liquid phase and thermal exfoliation – exposing graphite to a solvent which splits it into individual flakes of graphene. This method is ideal for energy applications (batteries and supercapacitors) as well as graphene paints and inks for products such as printed electronics, smart windows and electromagnetic shielding. Adding additional functionality to composite materials (extra strength, conductivity, moisture barrier) is another area such graphene can be applied.
Chemical Vapour Deposition – growing graphene films on copper foils, for use in flexible and transparent electronics applications and photonics, among others.
Synthesis on Silicon Carbide – growing graphene on either the silicon or carbon faces of this material commonly used for high power electronics. This can result in very high quality graphene with excellently-formed crystals, perfect for high-frequency transistors.
Professor Novoselov said: “Graphene has a potential to revolutionise many aspects of our lives simultaneously. Some applications might appear within a few years already and some still require years of hard work.
“Different applications require different grades of graphene and those which use the lowest grade will be the first to appear, probably as soon as in a few years. Those which require the highest quality may well take decades.
“Because the developments in the last few years were truly explosive, graphene’s prospects continue to rapidly improve.
“Graphene is a unique crystal in a sense that it has singlehandedly usurped quite a number of superior properties: from mechanical to electronic. This suggests that its full power will only be realised in novel applications, which are designed specifically with this material in mind, rather than when it is called to substitute other materials in existing applications.
“One thing is certain – scientists and engineers will continue looking into prospects offered by graphene and, along the way, many more ideas for new applications are likely to emerge.”
His co-author at Lancaster University, Professor Volodya Falko said: “By our paper, we aim to raise awareness of engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to the enormous potential of graphene to improve the existing technologies and to generate new products.
“To mention, in some countries, including Korea, Poland and the UK national funding agencies already run multi-million engineering-led research programmes aiming at commercialisation of graphene at a large scale.”
The paper was written with colleagues from Lancaster University, Texas Instruments Incorporated, AstraZeneca, BASF and Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.
Notes for Editors:
The paper, A roadmap for graphene, by K.S. Novoselov, V.I. Falko, L.Colombo, P.R. Gellert, M.G. Schwab and K.Kim, is available on request from the Press Office.
Images of graphene and more information are available at www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/.
Images of Professor Novoselov are available from the Press Office.
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