Leading Researchers and Industrialists Came Together for Inaugural Graphene Summit
Scientists, investors and industrialists networked and discussed moneymaking potential of “wonder material” at historic event produced by the National Graphene Association
The moneymaking possibilities of graphene were on full display at the inaugural Graphene Innovation Summit & Expo, held October 29-31 at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
Leading graphene researchers, industrialists and entrepreneurs from around the world gathered at the historic event, produced by the National Graphene Association (NGA), to discuss the commercialization of graphene, the two-dimensional “wonder material” with applications ranging from energy storage and electronics to biomedical sensors, water purification, composites and smart textiles, to name a few possibilities.
Developing these revolutionary new products and technologies—and bringing them to market—was the focus of the summit. The three-day event was a whirlwind of panel discussions, seminars, idea pitches and networking, headlined by industry leaders like Dr. Kari Hjelt, Head of Innovation for the European Commission’s Graphene Flagship, and Dr. Antonio Castro Neto, director of the Center for Advanced 2D Materials in Singapore.
“I don’t think this meeting is just important—I think it’s critical,” said Steven Rodgers, a principal with EmergenTek, LLC, a Salt Lake City company that specializes in the manufacturing and practical applications of graphene. “We have the right people here from around the world. In the few months I’ve been involved, this has transformed from a national group to a global one, and that international presence is very encouraging because it’s going to take all of us working together.”
“This has been a very good event for us,” agreed Paolo Bucciol, co-founder of Deewear, an Italian company that incorporates graphene into sportswear. “We’ve made lots of connections, not only in terms of potential partners but also investors, plus other opportunities with companies that provide graphene. We’re always looking for new innovations. Knowing that there are all of these other people who are investing in this technology will help us because we obviously need to review our road map every three months to keep it updated.”
Dr. Angela Hight Walker, a nanomaterials researcher with NIST and chair of a working group and a joint task group developing standards for nanotechnology research, was one of several leading scientists who spoke about the need for establishing standards. “This has been a great conference,” she said. “It’s great to see industry and researchers come together to discuss how to get graphene into important products.”
Everyone in attendance agreed on the vast moneymaking potential of graphene. “With just very small amounts of graphene, what’s impossible can be made possible,” noted Jung-Hoon Lee of Standard Graphene, a South Korean company that mass-produces graphene and graphene oxide for commercial applications.
NGA has also established the American Graphene Institute, a nonprofit educational and advocacy organization, as well as the Graphene Venture Fund, organized specifically to create growth opportunities for graphene businesses and new product development.
The commercialization of graphene offers a ground-floor opportunity unparalleled in recent history, said Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale, Inc., a UK technology company that’s developing and commercializing the next generation of functionalized graphene and other advanced materials. “Graphene has trillions of dollars in potential, but it’s going to be a journey to make it happen.”
The conference was an important step forward in that journey. The next step will come with the Global Graphene Conference, also produced by the NGA. It’s slated for May 2018 in Las Vegas.
“We all share a vision of a graphene future that will see new products developed—and current products improved—in ways yet to be imagined,” said Dr. Ed Meek, founder of the NGA. “Through this summit, we have begun to build the foundation necessary for the growth, development and commercialization of graphene. Perhaps no discovery in my lifetime holds the promise that may be revealed in graphene.”